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October 10, 2022 / 2022 Power 25 Health Care

2022 Power 25 Health Care: Jeffrey Flaks & Bimal Patel

HBJ PHOTO | STEVE LASCHEVER Hartford HealthCare CEO Jeff Flaks is leading the health system’s efforts to partner with tech companies to improve patient care.

It’s not often a CEO of a major company would admit publicly that his or her industry is broken.

But that’s exactly what Hartford HealthCare CEO Jeff Flaks said during a May conference — titled “Healthcare’s Future: The Post-COVID World” — held in Rocky Hill.

“Health care is broken. It’s not equitable, not accessible enough and our whole vision has to be to completely disrupt ourselves,” Flaks said at the conference, attended by health insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital executives. “We must move away from fee for service. We need a massive overhaul of the system.”

Flaks, of course, may be in one of the most influential positions to try and change that system.

Flaks oversees a statewide health system with seven hospitals, including flagship Hartford Hospital. Hartford HealthCare recorded $5 billion in operating revenue in fiscal 2021, which represented nearly one of every three operating dollars collected by all Connecticut health systems combined.

Since joining the organization in 2004, he’s played a key role in helping build out the HHC system, climbing the ranks over the years into bigger leadership roles.

HHC is the second-largest health system in Connecticut, behind Yale New Haven Health, and its Connecticut market share has grown of late to within just a few percentage points of the New Haven-based system.

With its purchase of St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport in 2019, HHC made a big play in Fairfield County, investing millions to renovate the aging facility.

However, Hartford HealthCare’s increasing size and market power have recently drawn the ire of a competitor and some consumers. In January, St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center filed an antitrust lawsuit against Hartford HealthCare and its subsidiaries, claiming HHC is trying to create a monopoly on hospital services by acquiring physician practices, particularly cardiologists, and demanding that they refer their patients only to Hartford HealthCare.

And in February, a group of Connecticut residents sued Hartford HealthCare, accusing it of driving up prices through anti-competitive practices.

Hartford HealthCare has said both lawsuits are without merit, but all eyes will be on how the legal proceedings play out in court.

Flaks is also a major cheerleader for the city of Hartford, which HHC made a big commitment to with new operations downtown at 100 Pearl St. Hartford HealthCare is moving its corporate headquarters there, along with hundreds of jobs — one of the few employers to grow its center-city presence since the beginning of the pandemic.

Bimal Patel

Bimal Patel leads Hartford HealthCare’s flagship Hartford Hospital and Hartford region, and he’s also a senior vice president of the parent company. He’s risen through the care provider’s ranks over the years.

Patel was hired by Hartford Hospital in 2009 and was a project management executive, playing a key role in developing a 20-year master plan and completing 400,000 square feet of upgrades to the hospital.

In 2014 he was appointed senior vice president for operational integration for Hartford HealthCare, put in charge of systemwide services, including pharmacy, lab, radiology, real estate, facilities and construction and engineering, among other services.

Patel recently led the debut of Hartford Hospital’s new Bliss Wing, a 50,000-square-foot facility expansion on the care provider’s main campus that increases intensive-care unit, operating room and other capacities.

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