Carilion Clinic's CEO takes to the national stage in healthcare

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ROANOKE, Va. Carilion Clinic President and Chief Executive Officer Nancy Agee has been named one of the top 100 most influential people in healthcare in the nation. That list is from Modern Healthcare magazine. She ranks #23 and joins a list that includes Senators John McCain and Mitch McConnell.

This honor comes as Agee prepares to become chair of the American Hospital Association. She takes on that role next year after serving as chair-elect this year.

"It's an incredible opportunity to be associated with the American Hospital Association especially at this time when there is a lot of turmoil and confusion over what's going to happen with health care," Agee said.

The AHA, Agee said, advocates for hospitals and healthcare systems, but also for consumers and patients.

Agee said Carilion Clinic's success is part of what brought her national recognition. Carilion Clinic's model of care has evolved over the past decade, Agee said. It now includes a large primary care network and more than 1,000 physicians overall. "We're trying to assure that care happens and that access to care happens closest to home," Agee said.

Carilion Clinic also has a growing number of specialists. "You don't need to go anyplace else for care," Agee said. She is also proud of Carilion's focus on tele-health where doctors and patients use technology to communicate. Carilion's My Chart allows just that.

She also touts Carilion's commitment to planning for the future of healthcare with the Jefferson College of Health Science, and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute. "These are amazing things that we're doing right here," Agee said.

It's these things, Agee said, that have established Carilion as a leader in healthcare nationally. "A lot of people across the country are taking a look at us and saying 'how can we do that?'" Agee said.

Now as Agee prepares to take over as chair of the American Hospital Association she said her primary focus will be affordable care. "I think if I look at a definition of affordability it's really what you spend in a year for healthcare," Agee said. "And when healthcare costs are crowding out your ability to do other things, there is something wrong."

Agee knows healthcare is complex and hospitals are only one spoke in the wheel, but she believes hospitals can be a catalyst for change. She believes it's critical to bring many players together to find solutions. "How to begin to have a much more intentional and thoughtful conversation in this country about affordability," Agee said.

She knows it wont' be easy and won't be fixed overnight. "There's a lot of work to be done," Agee said.

It's clear Nancy Agee is ready and able to get to work.