When Joe Mattera came on board at Wisconsin-based regional health network Froedtert Health Inc. six years ago, he had more to learn than just the ins and outs of his new role. Having spent the past eight years in the manufacturing industry, Mattera needed to find his footing in an entirely different legal landscape.
“I was asking a lot of questions, and I think I wound up asking questions that may have been critical in the manufacturing industry but perhaps hadn’t always been asked of my business teams at Froedtert before I got here,” says Mattera, now an associate general counsel. “Those questions helped me better understand the healthcare sector and the organization.”
Mattera has continued to apply his multi-industry expertise ever since. He advises on commercial matters impacting Froedtert’s supply chain and information technology (IT) groups, each of which presents its own array of challenges. In addition to meeting those challenges head on, Mattera streamlines internal and client-facing processes, with the goal of creating efficiencies benefiting his fellow attorneys, his Froedtert business partners, and the numerous patients depending on the health network.
Immediately prior to joining Froedtert, Mattera worked in-house at Kohler Co., a manufacturing company likewise based in Wisconsin. “There are a number of businesses at Kohler—kitchen and bath, engines and generators, hospitality,” he explains. “I was able to work in most of them during my eight years there, and I got to handle diverse types of matters and projects.”
That variety suited Mattera, always keen to explore new areas. His eagerness to broaden his horizons paved the way for his jump from Kohler to Froedtert––and from manufacturing to healthcare. “Healthcare is obviously a completely different industry from manufacturing, and a highly regulated one. I’ve learned a lot over the past six years, and I continue to learn something new every day in the healthcare space,” he says.
Even as he was learning on the job, Mattera brought fresh eyes to Froedtert’s commercial engagements. “Coming from manufacturing, I had a little bit of a different perspective,” he confirms. “When Froedtert was buying a piece of capital equipment, I wanted to know not only what the equipment does but also what happens when it fails. Is it going to impact patient care? What are the implications for the organization as a whole?”
The trickle-down effect of his activities in the legal department, both on patient care and on Froedtert as an organization, pushes Mattera to make a constant effort toward process improvement. To that end, he recently started leveraging digital solutions, such as artificial intelligence and automation, to revamp the commercial contract review process.
“The faster we’re able to get commercial contracts done, the faster we can get products and equipment into our facilities to try to give our patients the best care possible while they’re here,” he emphasizes. “It also helps decrease and minimize the cost of that care. Those are the overarching reasons as to why we’re looking at these initiatives.”
Mattera and his colleagues have found another opportunity for improvement in the way that the legal department manages projects. “We’re in the process of implementing a solution that will offer visibility and transparency across our department as to what major projects we’re all working on. We all have different areas of expertise, and this tool will foster discussions and encourage us to work through projects in a more collaborative way,” he says.
Beyond creating efficiencies internally, Mattera strives to remain abreast of external issues in healthcare that may affect the groups he counsels at Froedtert. On the IT front, he sees cybercrime as an ongoing challenge. “If there is a data breach or some other event created by a cybercriminal, there are ramifications for patients, whose data may be compromised, and for the healthcare system itself. The reputational damages in the eyes of the system’s patients and business partners could blow up really quickly,” he elaborates.
Security is of the utmost importance when it comes to the healthcare supply chain as well. “The COVID-19 pandemic exposed a lot of flaws in supply chain processes and created a lot of challenges for the healthcare supply chain,” Mattera says. “As health systems start to transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic phase, health systems need to continue to be cognizant of potential supply chain-related issues.”
In the face of these and other hurdles, Mattera aims to keep Froedtert on top. “You try to put the organization in the best position possible under the circumstances,” he says. After all, when the organization thrives, so does its patient population. “What is always—and has to be—front of mind is the impact on patients,” Mattera adds. “My job is to mitigate risk and protect the organization but, in pursuit of those tasks, I can’t lose sight of the fact that we need to create the best patient experience we can.”
von Briesen & Roper, s.c. is a Wisconsin-based law firm providing health law services since the 1950s. With more than 180 professionals, von Briesen is positioned to provide unparalleled service and recognized expertise with practical legal advice at a competitive value. We are a law firm that is A Step AboveSM.