The Catalyst

The Catalyst

Meet Ascension Wisconsin’s New Leader, Daniel W. Jackson

Daniel W. Jackson
Daniel Jackson, Senior Vice President, Ascension and Ministry Market CEO, Ascension Wisconsin

BHCG recently sat down with Daniel W. Jackson, FACHE, Senior Vice President, Ascension and Ministry Market CEO, Ascension Wisconsin, to get his perspective on his role and the challenges and strategic priorities for Ascension Wisconsin. He shared his views about Ascension Wisconsin’s partnership with BHCG and his system’s participation in the BHCG-Centivo high-performance heath plan solution, and how he believes we can work together to increase health care value in our region.


Please provide us with some information about your background, previous positions, why you took the Ascension position and when you started.

“I have been passionate about health care for my entire 26-year career. But this is the first time I am with an organization that completely aligns with my personal values and beliefs. Based on my background, I believe that I have a unique skill set and experience that can contribute to this ministry’s success.

I came here last spring as the interim president of Columbia St. Mary’s in Milwaukee. I stayed because of the people I have the privilege to work with. The people who show up every day, every holiday, rain or shine, on weekends – to care for our patients and our community. That dedication is something I want to be a part of.

I see the job of someone like me is to provide the support and resources to the people who actually deliver care. To protect their ability to speak up and give them a safe framework to say things, to try things, discuss results, and refine them.

I am truly proud and humbled to be chosen to lead Ascension Wisconsin and the exceptional, talented and dedicated leaders and associates who have been providing compassionate, personalized, high quality care to our communities for more than a century. I’m excited to take on these new responsibilities and am committed to protecting and improving health care for all in Wisconsin.”

What are the top priorities for your health system in Wisconsin?

“My top priority is taking the pressure off the people who do the caring for our patients. That’s what I hear is most important to our frontline associates. If you want to improve quality, improve access to care, improve the burnout problem, you must give caregivers the time and energy they need to provide the right care for each patient as an individual.

Ascension Wisconsin remains committed to providing safe, high quality care now and in the future, and we are actively working to strengthen and sustain our workforce, particularly our nursing community. As the health care industry, both nationally and in Wisconsin, continues to evolve, we must continue to adapt to ensure the continued strength and sustainability of our ministry and Mission as we do what’s best for our patients, our providers, associates, and the communities we serve.

We have to be willing to work past the status quo to help move our organization in the right direction and do what’s best for our patients. And it’s our patients, especially those who need us most, who are at the center of the decisions we make.

We have a long and proud history of serving our communities in Wisconsin, and we intend to honor that commitment as we move forward to improve health equity and reduce health disparities. I want to help our patients live their best lives and improve the health of our community and continue to deliver real value and bring innovative solutions for seamless access to the care our community needs.”

What are the biggest challenges facing your health system in Wisconsin today?

“We continue to be challenged by the national health care workforce shortages which are primarily due to early retirements, high burnout rates, competition with non-hospital providers who offer first shift only hours rather than the 24/7 demands of a hospital, easier workload and equal pay in less stressful environments.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association estimates that 52% of health workforce shortages fall within nursing. We have also seen great increases in need for nursing but also for physician support roles including medical surgical technicians, patient care and lab technicians, and certified nursing assistants, as well as medical assistants, food service workers, and other non-clinical positions. We are now competing with non-health care sector employers for these same positions, and we are actively seeking new ways to remain competitive.

Moving forward, I am committed to addressing the needs of our frontline staff and ensuring they continue to provide critical care and unconditional compassion to the patients who we have the privilege to serve.”

How is Ascension working with employers and other health care payors to improve the value – both cost and quality – of health care delivered in Wisconsin?

“Ascension Wisconsin is committed to providing value to our patients, employers and the communities we serve.  We define value as great outcomes provided in a cost effective way. This commitment includes our primary care and specialty providers meeting the criteria for high value performance metrics for quality and cost established by all health care payers. We look forward to a future where there is greater alignment and transparency between providers, employers and payers and we’re committed to being a part of that transformation.”

How does Ascension view its relationship with the Business Health Care Group (BHCG) and the employer community?

“Ascension Wisconsin enjoys a strong relationship with BHCG and employers in the communities we are privileged to serve. This is evident by our commitment to BHCG/Centivo and the employer members through open dialogue, shared events, quarterly quality and metric review and aligned access to Ascension Wisconsin providers and facilities. In addition, our Ascension Wisconsin Employer Solutions division actively works with nearly 2,000 different employer groups annually to meet their needs through cost effective programs including onsite clinics, occupational health, wellness and EAP.

In our most recent quarterly meeting on cost and quality metrics with BHCG member employers and Centivo, the following shared metrics were reported:

  • Continued growth in members attributed to Ascension primary care providers
  • Ascension Wisconsin is meeting or exceeding cost expectations
  • Ascension Wisconsin is on track to meet preventive visit and ER utilization goals
  • 95 percent of referrals by primary care physicians for Centivo patients were made to high value specialists.

We appreciate the partnership and shared goals we have with the Business Health Care Group (BHCG) and look to continue our relationship as we work toward better supporting population health management.”

Ascension was one of the first health systems to commit to participate in the BHCG-Centivo high-performance health plan in Wisconsin.  What drove that decision, and do you see the value for Ascension in coming early to the solution?

“Our decision was driven by the clear strategic alignment between BHCG employer members with Ascension’s Mission and initiatives to provide high quality and affordable health care for our community. This included core alignment in key areas:

  • Primary care providers as the leaders/hub of their patients’ care, establishing the patient’s Medical Home for all future care. Ascension Wisconsin primary care providers help patients on their care journey and coordinate all aspects of care - prevention, disease management and referral to high performing specialists. This promotes better alignment across the continuum of care and reduces duplication, waste and cost.
  • Alignment between provider, employer and insurer on quality with the goal to improve health outcomes and population health oversight.

We see the value for Ascension Wisconsin, but more importantly for our patients. The proof is in the outcomes – a great example is the story about an Ascension Wisconsin patient, who is an employee of a large Wisconsin employer that offers Centivo to their employees through BHCG. This individual had a number of hospital visits this year which required them to see their Ascension Wisconsin primary care doctor multiple times. Those visits resulted in a referral to a high-performing oncologist, a diagnosis of prostate cancer and treatment for his cancer. The patient has since reduced his blood pressure, his cholesterol and he has lost 40 pounds. He is happy with his outcome and better quality of life, his experience and the reasonable costs.”

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