How Acadia Healthcare’s new CTC president plans to tackle health care’s costliest problems

Innovation has its greatest impact when it is implemented at scale. And the intersection of innovation and scale is where Acadia Healthcare’s new division president Nasser Khan wants to be.

Driven by curiosity, the Rhode Island resident wanted answers to questions about the health care industry that he had not received in his previous life as a physician-scientist. How do things really work? Why don’t some things work? How do you make the most of a possible solution?

He founded DaVita Inc. in 2012. (NYSE: DVA), a leading provider of kidney care services, has joined. There he had an important realization. Khan found that the small proportion of Medicare enrollees with end-stage kidney disease (0.8%) accounted for 8.3% of all Medicare spending.

This brought to mind the Pareto Principle – also known as the 80-20 Rule – which basically states that 80% of results come from 20% of events.

“How do you find the part of the problem where you focus the external energy?” Khan told Behavioral Health Business. “In the case of dialysis, it is a relatively small patient population but it has a huge impact on the health care system.

“So I think that tendency, that curiosity, and that fascination with that kind of problem continued when it took [realization] to other industries and locations.

After completing an internal medicine residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, he began working for the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

But he wanted to work at the point of care, innovating in the management and delivery of healthcare services. This was the attraction for Davita.

Acadia Healthcare Company Inc.
Nasir Khan, president of the Comprehensive Treatment Centers Operating Group of Acadia Healthcare Company Inc.

After working for DaVita in a few roles for five years, he entered an R&D leadership role with a startup called Biograph.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Biograph sought to re-imagine preventive health through health care technology.

“I’ve always wanted to work in the early stages of innovation,” Khan said. “What I found is that I enjoyed the innovation process, it fascinated me.”

But leading and growing a small company stresses the importance of scale, which led him to join Shield Health Solutions, a nationally scaled specialty pharmacy company.

PE veteran Welch, Carson, Anderson & Stowe has acquired Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. in September 2021. (Nasdaq: WBA) sold Shields Health Solutions. While at Shields, Khan served as Senior Vice President of Operations.

Khan’s interest in addressing challenges of disparate impact with scale and innovation led her to specifically consider behavioral health and addiction treatment.

His work at Acadia Healthcare

This brought him to his current role with Franklin, Tennessee-based Acadia Healthcare Company Inc. (NASDAQ: ACHC). In September, he was appointed Steering Group Chairman of Comprehensive Treatment Centers (CTCs).

CTCs account for approximately 60% of Acadia Healthcare’s footprint. They provide mental health, therapy and social support services alongside medication-assisted treatment.

Acadia Healthcare is the largest pure-play behavioral health provider in the U.S. It operates 242 facilities with approximately 10,800 beds in 39 states and Puerto Rico, according to its latest financial disclosure. There are about 145 CTC facilities.

In 2021, Acadia Healthcare’s annual revenue is projected to total $2.31 billion. A little over a third of the company’s revenue comes from CTC.

The company also operates inpatient psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centers and outpatient clinics.

“I think a large scale player that is well integrated is the only way you will be able to fully serve the patient, or else you will end up with a fragmented environment, which I think is our There is always a challenge in the healthcare system,” Khan said.

Khan said the Pareto principle applies to throughline behavioral health.

According to a study by Milliman, people with a mental health or substance abuse disorder (SUD) represent 57% of the top 10% of the most expensive insurance plan members. Of the total population studied, 27% had a mental health disorder or SUD.

About 6% of the total population had a mental health disorder, or SUD, and they were among the most expensive plan members. This group alone spent 44% of total health care costs.

“If you’re not familiar with the space, you might think that addiction is a minor problem … There’s an inherent—not me, we—them paradox,” Khan said. “Get close to the problem and you realize it’s everybody’s problem and the magnitude of it.”

Looking ahead, Khan’s objectives fall broadly into two categories – increasing access to SUD treatment and improving the working environment for CTC employees.

“In opioid use disorder, only one in 10 people is getting access to the gold standard therapy, medication-assisted treatment,” Khan said. “First and foremost, I have a very clear development mandate to take care of the nine out of 10 people who are not getting that treatment.”

This may include new outreach efforts, innovations in patient engagement, and improvements in patient treatment models.

The development efforts also require Acadia Healthcare to play an educator role for other stakeholders in the health care system. These efforts aim to dispel stigma and misconceptions about behavioral health treatment and the people who seek it.

Acadia Healthcare CEO Christopher Hunter previously said that Acadia would become an “active acquirer” in the space.

“We have a crisis on the staffing and care delivery side,” Khan said. “We need to excite and activate people to come to our sector. we need to reorganize [employees] With mission orientation that made them want to be caregivers in the first place. Through it… what can we do to reduce the friction in their days and get them focused again on what they do best.

Khan said the objective on the workforce front is to make Acadia Healthcare CTC a “world-glass environment.”

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