When Susan DeVore sees a doctor, she’s an observant patient. “I will watch to see who actually enters information into the computer. Is it the doctor or the nurse? Is it somebody else?” she says. “Will they call me? Do they have telemedicine capability?” She’s fascinated by health care’s transformation, even as she’s working to put Premier Inc. at the forefront of it.
Premier’s profile has risen since going public in 2013, and so has that of its president and CEO. In Modern Healthcare magazine’s 2014 ranking of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare, DeVore ranked 68th and was among only 21 women on the list. Last year, Queens University of Charlotte named her its BusinessWoman of the Year. DeVore’s total compensation increased from $7.5 million in 2013 to $24.9 million last year. That included $9.2 million in options and $13.2 million in restricted stock awards.
“She’s done a great job building a pretty impressive empire at Premier, a differentiated model,” says Nicholas Jansen, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates “They’ve delivered on the expectation set forth in the IPO. If she’s able to deliver on the next wave of growth, which is potentially an accretive [merger and acquisition], I think shareholders will be pleased.”
One of seven children, DeVore was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, where her father, biomedical engineer Burt Dodson, was stationed in the Air Force. The family followed his postings to Germany and elsewhere before settling in Charlotte when she was 14, about the age, she says, when she decided she wanted to work in health care. In a fateful coincidence, her father co-founded Charlotte-based GPO SunHealth Alliance, a predecessor of Premier. Dodson retired in 1987 and died in 2009.
While in high school, DeVore got a job at Mercy Hospital, now owned by Carolinas HealthCare System, handling tasks such as updating its procedures manual. That particular task was “awful,” she says with a laugh. “When I think back about it now, I am not a clinician by background, but it gave me this wonderful understanding of how it was supposed to work.”
DeVore, 56, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNC Charlotte in 1980. (Gov. Pat McCrory named her to its board of trustees in July.) She spent the next two decades as a consultant in health care and other industries for what’s now Capgemini U.S. LLC before joining Premier in 2003. “She’s an incredibly hard worker,” says Kester Freeman Jr., executive director of the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health, who was on Premier’s board when DeVore was hired. “She doesn’t make enemies; she’s not that kind of person. She’s got that rare ability to be dynamic and aggressive without being overbearing.”
Premier position: As hospitals face pressure to trim costs while serving more patients, Susan DeVore prepares her purchasing group to make the process hum.