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Newly installed ACMS president shares vision for 2020

William K. Johnjulio, MD, was presented with the president’s pin and gavel at the Dec. 10 meeting of the ACMS Board of Directors, merely weeks prior to beginning his service as the 155th president of the Allegheny County Medical Society.

As ACMS president, Dr. Johnjulio’s vision for the year is three-fold, with goals focused on fiscal responsibility, providing support to independent physicians and creating relevance for employed providers.

“One of my goals is to create a trajectory toward fiscal responsibility for the society,” Dr. Johnjulio said. “In the past, the society has relied on investments and membership to stay financially sound, but I think it needs to broaden its horizons moving forward.” Therefore, he is looking forward to working with CEO Jeremy Bonfini, staff members and the Board of Directors to develop a series of value-added services to help balance the society’s annual budget from operations in 2020.

Dr. Johnjulio also would like to continue to create services to help private practitioners remain independent if they choose to do so. “Creating such services will help the society take care of those physicians who want to remain in private practice, the kinds of physicians who founded the society over 150 years ago, while preserving the history of the society along the way.”

On the other end of the spectrum, he would like to help the society stay relevant to employed physicians. “It is much harder to understand why one needs to be part of the medical society when he or she is employed by a major health system,” Dr. Johnjulio said. Whether through surveys, focus group conversations or other avenues, he would like to assist the society in finding ways to work with the major health systems to create value as a lever regarding issues that both systems are facing.

Dr. Johnjulio’s vision is about providing physicians with the right tools and helping them along their career path to be successful and content as they practice in today’s ever-changing healthcare climate. Being an active member of the society is part of that equation for Dr. Johnjulio, and he encourages all physicians in and around the Pittsburgh area to join the society.

“One may not individually see the value of organized medicine or being part of an influence group, but if physicians look at policy and who promotes policy, it usually comes from large groups that have strength in numbers,” he said, using the Bar or Nurses Association as prime examples.

“If you are part of a group that can organize and work collectively toward goals of improving quality and reducing waste, then you stand to benefit from being part of that group,” stressing that physicians can no longer sit back and wait for things “to work out” in their favor.

“When you are looking to lobby or push policy to protect the autonomy of providers, your ability to influence decreases to the point of possibly becoming irrelevant if you are not involved in organized medicine,” frankly stating that those who are organized do a much better job dictating policy and will be part of the “winning group” in the next decade.

There is no doubt that Dr. Johnjulio’s business background has played a significant role in his understanding and success as a practitioner and leader within the healthcare industry for more than 20 years. “Coming from a business background and going into medicine was a really good relationship,” he said. “It helped me to better understand hospital finance and operations, as well as gave me a foundation to manage in a rapidly evolving health care industry.”

He received his bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Grove City College and subsequently moved to Iowa, where he sold explosives to stone quarries and coal mines before pursuing other career opportunities, including veterinary medicine.

He volunteered at a local veterinarian office, where he assisted with farm calls and in-office procedures, but after he volunteered at a free medical clinic, it was clear that human patient-care was more aligned with what he wanted to do for the rest of his professional career.

“I enjoyed the personal interaction and patient advocacy that accompanied a career in medicine,” Dr. Johnjulio said. “I loved animals, but I realized I could have a dog and take care of patients at the same time.”

During his third year of medical school, he fulfilled a family medicine rotation with a physician in private practice and was hooked. “Taking care of every aspect of a patient’s needs greatly interested me,” he said. “I liked talking to patients and figuring out how to manage their care within the office setting.”

Board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine, Dr. Johnjulio graduated from the University of Iowa College of Medicine and completed postgraduate training with a Family Medicine internship at the University of Rochester/Highland Hospital and a residency and chief year in Family Medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He also completed a Faculty Development program at Duke University and an Executive Business Program at the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business.

Dr. Johnjulio and his family moved to Pittsburgh in 1998, where he started his own practice and became a faculty member at Mercy Hospital. He later served as chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Mercy Hospital for nine years and helped to revive the hospital’s Family Medicine residency program as its director.

In 2008, Mercy Hospital merged with UPMC, and its family medicine residency program at Mercy Hospital closed. Dr. Johnjulio eventually helped to transition his practice to the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) over a two-year period, which remained independent until 2018.

Today, Dr. Johnjulio serves as chair of Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) Primary Care Institute as well as medical director of AHN’s clinically integrated network, Physician Partners of Western Pennsylvania LLC. He also is system chair of the Department of Family Medicine at AHN and is responsible for overseeing all clinical, administrative and academic components of the department. He was formerly the program director of Forbes Family Medicine Residency at AHN.

In his spare time, Dr. Johnjulio enjoys a variety of outdoor activities, and has been fortunate to share many of those with his wife, Margot, and two adult children, Will and Grace, over the years. As a family, they spent a lot of time biking, hiking, fishing, snow and water skiing, to name a few, and still enjoy many of these hobbies today.

After receiving his undergraduate degree from Denison University, Will graduated from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2017. He is currently a second-year Emergency Medicine resident at Allegheny General Hospital. Grace is a graduate of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. She received her master’s degree in management and works for IBM in Denver, Colo., where she enjoys many outdoor activities.

Dr. Johnjulio and his wife currently reside in Fox Chapel.

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