Joint health institute selects new director

Justin Costley

A six-month search by the National Institute of Health Policy ended Feb. 8 when Daniel McLaughlin became the new executive director.
McLaughlin was selected by the NIHP, a joint venture between the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas, from a pool of 50 applicants.
Frank Cerra, senior vice president for the Academic Health Center who helped establish the institute, said McLaughlin has the right stuff to do the job.
“He’s got great leadership capabilities, breadth and depth of understanding of health care and health policy,” Cerra said. “I think he’s a definite asset.”
The idea for a public institute, which would provide research and dialogue on health policy issues, was born through the efforts of former U.S. Sen. David Durenberger and administrators from the University of St. Thomas.
In order to create a forum that would draw on the upper Midwest and beyond, St. Thomas and the University created a partnership in 1998, making the institute a reality.
Durenberger acts as the chief executive officer of a seven-member policy board consisting of two members from each university and two members of the community.
The board is responsible to both universities and must ensure the institute is designed properly and achieving its goals.
The objectives include creating a “reservoir” of information where policy-makers or health care administrators can seek ways to improve the relations between health professionals and patients.
To create this environment and provide communities with ideas on ideal health policy, the institute will conduct research, seek expert speakers, plan how to move forward and emphasize the best practices.
“We will develop a resource base where policy-makers or those who advise policy-makers can come and test their own suggestions or ideas against what we believe is the core of health care and should be the core of health care,” Durenberger said.
He added the institute would be a neutral forum and would not lobby for policy changes.
“We will just build a capacity in others to do that kind of thing if they desire to,” Durenberger said.
While Durenberger will handle the administrative responsibilities part time, it will be McLaughlin directing the day-to-day operations.
McLaughlin brings a variety of public health care experience to his new job.
As former chair of the National Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, and director of the Hennepin County Heath Care Systems, McLaughlin said he is familiar with policy changes and is ready to begin.
“I’m really excited about it,” McLaughlin said. “The energy and concern that everybody has about the health system is just so striking in those meetings that it’s just a real interesting time to be setting up something like this.”

Justin Costley covers the Medical School and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3234.