Higgins revels in role with ortho practice

There’s little doubt that Catherine Higgins, who has been the CEO and CFO of BoulderCentre for Orthopedics & Spine since its inception in 2014, is exactly where she has always wanted to be.

“Back in the day, I really had a passion for medicine,” said Higgins, whose bachelor’s degree was in finance at Notre Dame. “Then I thought about the years of med school, …”

Catherine Higgins, with a financial background, fulfills her passion for medicine in her role at the Boulder Centre for Orthopedics & Spine. Courtesy Boulder Centre for Orthopedics & Spine

Though choosing a career path that allowed her to go directly into the working world from college, Higgins always gravitated toward health care. Early in her career as a CPA, she said, about half of her business was involved in health-care audits.

Higgins came to the University of Colorado at Denver to obtain a masters in health administration in 1992, became a consultant and a senior director with Voluntary Health Agencies, and was executive director of Boulder Valley Individual Practice Association for 17 years before taking the position at BoulderCentre.

Essentially, the greater part of her career was spent helping physicians continue their careers as independent practitioners, she said.  The Boulder Valley IPA represents more than 500 independent physicians.

“Remaining independent is important to physicians; many don’t want to end up being employed by a hospital system, she said. “Being an employee is not inherent in most of their personalities.”

Higgins became the CEO/CFO of BoulderCentre on its first day of operation. The corporation was formed by a merger between Mapleton Hill Orthopedics and Boulder Orthopedics in April of 2016.

“I have always wanted to run a large group practice, having been on the consulting side for my entire career,” she said. “Watching the two practices come together and grow cohesively has been wonderful.”

All of the 14 physicians in the BoulderCentre own shares in the corporation, so Higgins’ commitment to individual practices is important. However, there are also 100 employees to consider, as well as supporting all the medical equipment that support the physicians.

“Dealing with the health-care environment in this day and age is difficult,” she said. “Reimbursement is not going up, and you have to be careful how to deliver quality care.  At the same time you have to constantly be developing new revenue streams.”

Patient care has to be the first consideration of how to proceed with the Centre and that includes making sure that physicians have the resources and staffing to ensure that remains a priority, Higgins said.  “You have to make sure they just have to worry about their patients and the practice of medicine.

“But at the end of the day it’s a business. The lights have to come on every morning, and it’s a really hard balancing act to make it work.”

Higgins said the Centre, which has a main office and clinic in Boulder and a second in Lafayette, has a good core of physicians, staff and equipment — which make it the largest orthopedic organization in the county. While young physicians are periodically brought in as partners to replace retiring physicians or fill an important specialty, growth isn’t the organization’s first priority.

“I don’t think we’re looking to grow, unless it was through another similar merger,” she said.

And the organization is small enough to allow her to go downstairs to witness one of the many surgeries the doctors here routinely provide.

”It’s like coming full circle, but it wasn’t an intentional circle ever. This is where I was meant to be, and it’s really fun,” she said. “But watching those surgeries, that confirms I was not meant to be a doctor.”

There’s little doubt that Catherine Higgins, who has been the CEO and CFO of BoulderCentre for Orthopedics & Spine since its inception in 2014, is exactly where she has always wanted to be.

“Back in the day, I really had a passion for medicine,” said Higgins, whose bachelor’s degree was in finance at Notre Dame. “Then I thought about the years of med school, …”

Catherine Higgins, with a financial background, fulfills her passion for medicine in her role at the Boulder Centre for Orthopedics & Spine. Courtesy Boulder Centre for Orthopedics & Spine

Though choosing a career path that allowed her to go directly into the working world from college, Higgins always gravitated toward health care. Early in her career as a CPA, she said, about half of her business was involved in health-care audits.

Higgins came to the University of Colorado at Denver to obtain a masters in health administration in 1992, became a consultant and a senior director with Voluntary Health Agencies, and was executive director of Boulder Valley Individual Practice Association for 17 years before taking the position at BoulderCentre.

Essentially, the greater part of her career was spent helping physicians continue their careers as independent practitioners, she said.  The Boulder Valley IPA represents more than 500 independent physicians.

“Remaining independent is important to physicians; many don’t want to end up being employed by a hospital system, she…