Jordan Barbour originally intended to become a doctor. As a pre-med major at Elon University, he shadowed doctors in a variety of healthcare settings, including the emergency department and surgery. “It was fascinating, but I got to see some of the dysfunction of American healthcare firsthand,” he said. He said some of his physician mentors told him that, to make a career providing direct patient care, he would have to accept working within the system; but if he wanted to change the system, he should choose another career. Around that same time, he took a class at Elon called “21st Century Healthcare.” “It opened my eyes to the complexity of our system,” he said. The confluence of these experiences defined his career trajectory. “I decided I wanted to pursue a master’s in healthcare management, which I did at Yale School of Public Health,” Barbour said.
At Yale, Barbour said his interests still spanned a wide gamut, from global health to policy. “I knew that, rather than jumping right into a niche, I could opt to do an administrative fellowship to get the big picture,” he said. After doing his research, he was convinced that Geisinger, as an integrated health system with an insurance component, could deliver that big picture. “I liked Geisinger’s focus on population and community health,” he said. “Many of the fellowships that I looked into were at systems still based on “fee for service” reimbursement models. As the saying goes, there is no healthcare reform without payment reform, so Geisinger was the right place to learn about and enact the future of healthcare.”
During his fellowship, Barbour said he was at the “intersection of community health and Geisinger’s health plan.” “My experiences spanned these areas. I managed operations at a community hospital and developed a business plan for the population health team,” he said, adding that he even had a hand in developing the initial plan for Geisinger at Home, the system’s innovative initiative to care for older patients with a multitude of health needs.
His most important experience, however, was learning how to incorporate behavioral health services into healthcare just as the opioid epidemic was exploding. “My fellowship gave me real world experience with real world impact. There’s just no substitute for being on the hot seat,” he said.
Today, as director of operations for addiction medicine, Barbour puts that experience to work integrating behavioral health services across the care continuum. “There is a significant need for behavioral health and addiction treatment services,” he said. “We are, quite frankly, saving lives and it doesn’t get any better than that.”