Emory University announced Wednesday that Michael J. Mandl will take over as president and CEO of the university’s health care operations.
Mandl currently serves as chairman of Emory Healthcare’s board of directors.
The appointment comes at a pivotal time for Emory Healthcare, which is in negotiations on a potential merger with another metro Atlanta medical heavyweight, WellStar Health System.
Mandl has led those merger discussions on behalf of Emory from the outset and will continue to do so, the university said.
He will replace John Fox, who surprised industry experts in leaving as Emory Healthcare CEO and president for the same positions with a Detroit-based health system.
Emory Healthcare, with more than 16,000 employees, had $2.7 billion in net revenue in fiscal 2014.
Its flagship hospital, Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, gained national attention in recent months for its role in the fight against Ebola. It was the first U.S. facility ever to treat an Ebola patient, and Emory has successfully treated all four Ebola patients admitted there.
Mandl, 52, has served as Emory University’s executive vice president for business and administration since 2003.
“Mike Mandl is a proven leader with extraordinary intellect, integrity, executive capacity, and great heart,” said James Wagner, Emory University president, in a statement. “He is the right leader at the right time for Emory Healthcare.”
Mandl told Georgia Health News that he believes that the WellStar/Emory union could function as a “model system for the rest of the country,’’ combining Emory’s academic medical strength with WellStar’s expertise in running community hospitals.
He said the biggest challenge and opportunity in his new positions “is trying to deliver care in the existing [health care] model and at the same time adapting to what the future can be.”
The WellStar merger talks reflect the consolidation rampant in the hospital industry, accelerated in part by payment changes and other reforms implemented in the Affordable Care Act.
Reynold Jennings, CEO of WellStar, said Wednesday that Mandl “is a person of impeccable integrity. I look forward to working with Mike on our efforts to design a new, unified health system that will create innovative strategies for addressing the challenges of today’s health care landscape.”
Health care consultant Dave Smith of Kearny Street Consulting said the merger talks may have been a key factor in Emory’s selection of Mandl.
“They picked one of their own, which is always good internally,’’ Smith said. “The learning curve [for Mandl] will be quick,’’ he said, adding that Emory’s choice “tells me that the Emory/WellStar merger is a real possibility.’’
Prior to coming to Emory, Mandl served as a vice president at Duke University. He held other leadership positions at the University of Pennsylvania and Duke and, earlier in his career, worked at the consulting firm KPMG and at Glaxo Pharmaceuticals.