Having led Jefferson transplant institute for the last decade, Cataldo Doria, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS, could begin to make out what was coming, and it wasn’t promising. “Transplantation has become extremely competitive. Just in Philly, there are five programs”—as of this writing—“that do liver transplants and 16 that do kidney transplants,” Dr. Doria says. Healthcare, in recent years, had begun to conduct itself more like an industry, not necessarily to the detriment of itself or its patients, Dr. Doria says. Introducing competition should equate to greater accessibility to care and higher standards for that care.
The concern was, where Dr. Doria stood, there was no prospect of growth in transplantation for the next 20 years. “We became better doctors. Our patients are living longer with their transplants than they ever have,” he says. “So more and more patients are being added to the waiting lists for transplants, but the supply isn’t increasing.” More hospitals competing for a stagnant number of patients—something needed to change, and Dr. Doria decided it was going to be him. He enrolled in the Fox online MBA program in an effort to gain a new perspective. Dr. Doria was always aware of the value of growing his network, but his methodology was flawed. He’d personally meet with physicians who could potentially refer patients to Jefferson’s Transplant Institute. “They were always very kind, but nothing was happening,” Dr. Doria says. “But, at Fox, I learned I had to create value for referring doctors and patients. I also had to make access to care easier for the patients and make sure the doctors saw the advantages in sending patients to us.” He reframed his proposition and began asking physicians if they would join Jefferson Transplant Institute and help shape its protocols. When they agreed, their offices became satellite clinics for the institute, which remedied the accessibility concern. Today, all transplants are performed at the transplant institute in Center City. But patients can elect to have their pre- and postoperative care done at one of several locations outside of Philadelphia, including the Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood and facilities in Newark, Delaware, South Jersey, and Doylestown. And, in 2015, the institute began implementing telecommunication technology for remote evaluations and postoperative care. “We looked to make the experience centered on the patients rather than the doctors,” Dr. Doria says. But, because they now had a stake in the transplant institute, the doctors, too, felt they had more control. The return on Dr. Doria’s revolutionary concept was remarkable. The number of liver transplants performed annually at the institute quadrupled, from 20 to 80. The waiting list increased from 40 to 100. “What that means, in transplanting 80 percent of our waiting list, is we’re also maximizing our resources,” he says. Kidney transplants also jumped from 60 to 125 annually. And because Dr. Doria did nothing to affect the supply of transplant organs, the increase in transplantations also represents the increase in Jefferson Health’s share of the Philadelphia organ pool. While his business savvy is a relatively recent development—Dr. Doria earned his MBA in 2015—he’s long been revered as a transplantation surgeon. During his tenure as the head of the transplant institute, the survival rate of his patients has consistently increased. Dr. Doria’s also pioneered a pair of surgical techniques, one that enables the removal of liver cancer without the use of blood and another that removes it through a series of nine-millimeter holes. But his proudest achievements are people, not procedures. His patients, Dr. Doria says, have no alternative. Without their transplants, they’ll die. Nothing could ever compete with watching them rejoin their families and resume normal lives. “I can’t help everyone, but those I can are my proudest achievements.” Dr. Doria left Jefferson in September and joined Capital Health System, a vibrant healthcare organization located in central New Jersey. At Capital, Dr. Doria is the medical director of the Cancer Center, a program in its infancy. When he looks back on his career, Dr. Doria believes it is evident at least part of his skill set is in building healthcare programs. He did just that in southern Europe on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in the late 1990s, where he built a state-of-the-art cancer center and multi-organ transplant program; he then resurrected a transplant program at Jefferson in Philadelphia and made it one of the most successful in the country. “In my mind, my last career move reflects my continuous interest in building successful healthcare programs from the ground up and in bringing advance medical and surgical treatments where the patients and their families live,” says Dr. Doria.
Temple University Degree
Master of Business Administration ’15, Fox School of Business
Title & Company
- Medical Director, Capital Health Cancer Center
- Professor of Biology, Temple University, College of Science and Technology
Temple University Awards & Affiliatons
Dean’s Council, Fox School of Business
What I wanted to be when I was 20 years old
I’ve wanted to be a transplant surgeon since I was 10. When I was growing up in Italy in the late sixties and early seventies, we had two TV channels. And both of them went off the air at 8 p.m., except for Wednesday, when there was a movie or a documentary. And there was this one documentary about Christiaan Barnard performing the first heart transplant that I became infatuated with. Much later on, I realized my passion was in liver transplantation.
Best piece of advice anyone ever gave me
Stick with your heart. If you don’t love your work, you’re going to deliver a mediocre product.