In 2003, upon completing his family medicine residency in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Slade Crowder, MD, came across Columbus on a map, and thought it would fit what he and his family were looking for in a place to work and live: a smaller town near a big city, where they could feel like they’re part of the community. Dr. Crowder contacted Columbus Regional Health physician recruiter Lindy Kirk (now director of physician recruitment and retention), and not long after, he and his family moved to Columbus, where he joined Sandcrest Family Medicine as a primary care physician.
Dr. Crowder, who is now Associate Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Ambulatory and Physician Services at Columbus Regional Health, has found Columbus to be a great place to practice medicine and to serve in a healthcare leadership role.
During his 14 years at Sandcrest, Dr. Crowder provided a wide-spectrum of care, from delivering babies to caring for children and adults. He assumed a leadership role as medical director of the practice and he also assumed leadership roles outside of the practice, including Board director positions with Our Hospice of South Central Indiana and Inspire Health Partners, our clinically integrated network of physicians and healthcare providers who work together to coordinate patient care.
In 2012, Sandcrest was among a group of eight practices to participate in a nationwide Patient-Centered Medical Home project through funding from a federal grant. The grant enabled the practices to develop a population health strategy for better access and coordinated care for patients. Rather than work as individual practices, they all worked together to improve care delivery. As one of the lead physicians on the project, Dr. Crowder gained a greater interest in population health through the work. “I was excited about getting involved with doing more with population health. I enjoyed the idea of helping more than just my immediate patients I saw in the office – I could have a bigger impact if we changed how we did things,” he said.
Dr. Crowder’s leadership abilities were recognized. Columbus Regional Health CEO Jim Bickel and Chief Medical Officer and Vice President Tom Sonderman, MD, asked him to attend a Studer Group healthcare conference in 2015. It was one of many times the organization supported his professional growth and education.
Between 2013 and 2017, Dr. Crowder saw the health system really start to unify, with the tighter alignment of the physician practices and the implementation of a unified medical record in the practices, along with a greater systematic focus on population health. He felt that he could make a bigger impact on the health of the community if he assumed a more administrative role. He accepted the role of Associate Chief Medical Officer for Columbus Regional Health in 2017 and later the title of Vice President of Physician Enterprise Operations was added. Stepping away from a direct patient-care role wasn’t an easy decision. He misses caring for patients, the relationships that form between provider and patient, and “sharing in the lives of all the people you take care of,” he added.
Despite all that he misses as a practicing physician, Dr. Crowder enjoys getting to help lead initiatives to improve healthcare for patients through better access to care. That includes looking at the whole concept of how quickly patients can be seen, the efficiency of scheduling an appointment on the patient’s terms, being more transparent with patients about results and sharing those results more quickly, and empowering patients to help manage their health. In his current role, he also sees an opportunity to further align the areas he oversees with other departments and practices in the health system. “I would like to improve the alignment of operations across our system so that all work together to be efficient and provide the best possible service to our patients,” he said.
Though work keeps him pretty busy, Dr. Crowder makes time for hobbies that include fitness – he’s completed three full Ironman races, five marathons, and a Race Across America, a road cycling race across the United States; playing music, including the piano, drums, and guitar; and flying his four-person small plane.
Dr. Crowder and his wife, Megan, have two children, a transgender son named Charlie and a daughter named Olivia. He knows he and his family made the right decision moving to Columbus 17 years ago. “My family feels like we’ve won the lottery – it’s been a perfect fit for the community. The investment that CRH made in me and growing me as a leader was appreciated and really helped develop me into who I am,” Dr. Crowder said. “I hope it has allowed and continues to allow me to make changes that help serve our community and their healthcare needs better.”