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Insights: Wildfires, comic strip keep Northern California healthcare executive on his toes

Podcast - November 19, 2019

Professional Development

Leadership Development

Disaster Planning

Practice Efficiency

In this episode of the MGMA Insights podcast, we’re joined by Peter Valenzuela, Chief Medical Officer for Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods and creator behind Doc-Related, a comic strip providing satirical perspective on the challenges of practicing medicine in today’s healthcare environment. Valenzuela’s home campus was recently evacuated due to Northern California’s latest encounter with devastating wildfires. 

Don’t quite have time to listen to the entire episode? No worries. We’ve compiled a few highlights from Valenzuela’s interview for your convenience:
  • (11:30) “When I first came in, I kind of spent the first 90 days doing an assessment. … I sat in the waiting room, I walked through the back, I talked to the staff and looked at what was on the walls and what they had to kind of get a feel for what they were like.”
  • (24:00) “I learned so much about the business side of healthcare. It lit a spark in me, because I kept thinking other physicians should learn this and if they don’t, maybe I can help them in some way.” 
  • (33:00) “They’ll email me or send me a message saying, ‘Man, you’re speaking my language’ or ‘I feel like you were just in my clinic last week, because that’s exactly what happened to me.’ So, it’s been really kind of an inspiring thing for me to do, to make myself better but also help other people understand that they’re not alone.”
  • (38:45) “I think that a lot of physicians, a lot of administrators, they have an end goal of ‘once I go through college and once I go through business school or get my masters, this is the position I’m going to be and that’s kind of the end game for me.’ For me, it’s really a matter of how do you keep getting better and what can you do to make yourself better?”

Here are some links and references related to this week’s show: 
If you like the show, please rate and review it wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher or countless other platforms to make sure you never miss an episode. 

We love hearing from listeners about the show. If you have topics you’d like us to cover or experts you’d like us to interview, email us at or reach out to MGMA Sr. Editor and podcast host Daniel Williams on Twitter at @MGMADaniel

MGMA Insights is presented by Decklan McGee, Rob Ketcham and Daniel Williams. 

Get a jump on the transition to value-based care with a new jointly created report by Humana and MGMA. To read the comprehensive report — complete with data, case studies and advice — visit

To further understand the complexities of a medical practice’s revenue cycle, be sure to check out MGMA’s November Book of the Month, “Revenue Cycle Management: Don’t Get Lost in the Financial Maze,” by Taya Moheiser and Kem Tolliver. To purchase or preview the book, visit

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