Hear How Allina Insiders Penny Wheeler, MD, and Ric Magnuson Prioritize “Whole Person Care”

Hear How Allina Insiders Penny Wheeler, MD, and Ric Magnuson Prioritize “Whole Person Care”


Penny Wheeler, MD, and Ric Magnuson lived and breathed different sides of the healthcare industry before joining forces at Allina Health, a not-for-profit healthcare system with 12 hospitals, 90+ clinics and 52 rehabilitation locations throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Penny and Ric come from very different backgrounds. Penny is an OB/GYN by practice who later became obsessed with quality improvement – in large part due to Don Berwick and Maureen Bisognango from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, two previous guests of the Healthcare Is Hard podcast. Ric has been in healthcare for about forty years in a variety of finance, operational, payer, teaching, and research roles across the country.

Both Penny and Ric were born and raised in Minneapolis, so to now be running one of the biggest institutions in their home city is a very unique situation for health system administrators. The two worked side-by-side briefly when Penny was a practicing physician, but it wasn’t until later on in their careers that they were really able to make an impact together.

Under Penny and Ric’s leadership, Allina thinks about healthcare holistically and is driven by practicing “Whole Person Care.” Rather than thinking of each patient as a disease or broken body part, they go much further, asking questions like: How are you feeling emotionally? How are your passions or lifestyle choices impacting your wellbeing? Do you have the right connections to the community to get the resources and care you need? Fueled by this idea of lifestyle medicine, Allina also operates The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, an organization focused on stress management, dietary needs, and lifestyle choices to help people live their best lives.

In this episode of Healthcare is Hard: A Podcast for Insiders, Penny and Ric draw upon their years working within the health system and leading one of the nation’s most innovative health care providers to cover a number of topics with Keith Figlioli, including:

  • Integrating Social Determinants of Health – Allina has started screening people for Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) at clinics and emergency rooms. These screenings look to gauge factors such as transportation needs, violence in the home, food insecurity, and utilities and housing. About one third of the people they’re seeing have an identified need and about half of the time the need they’re struggling with is food insecurity. Allina helps connect these people to viable community resources which not only improves outcomes, but lifts patients up by helping them understand that the people at Allina are truly there to care for their wholistic needs. Screening for SDOH has been a revealing experience that gives Allina real insight into the limited income people are sometimes living on and the challenges they face. Simple screenings – and being able to realistically bring connections to community resources into treatment workflows – can make all the difference.
  • The Push for Value-Based Care – Penny and Ric know that the move towards value-based care (VBC) is inevitable and understand that it’s their obligation to push it forward as an organization. They talk about how Allina has moved on to VBC 2.0 and how the health system has begun experimenting and piloting ways to take risk, learn quickly, and fail fast. Many of these programs are new this year, and their plan is to learn quickly so they can expand even further in 2020 and 2021. Both Penny and Ric strongly believe this is the right method long-term and that VBC will help them design a better future for the community they serve.
  • Health Systems are Becoming Platforms – While many providers are worrying about disruptors entering healthcare from the outside, Penny, Ric and Allina are focused on figuring out how to become part of the disruption by extending the platform they already have. To them, this means building around the hospitals and clinics at the core of their system and working with partners to stretch the continuum, so everyone feels constant care and support. As Ric says, it’s not just about wellness, which Allina already does well – it’s also about creating an attachment to the community. It’s about moving beyond your “four walls” and into communities and neighborhoods to deliver care in new ways. This will become increasingly more important as Millennials mature.

To hear Penny Wheeler and Ric Magnuson talk about these topics and more, listen to this episode of Healthcare is Hard: A Podcast for Insiders.

Podcast Guest

Ric Magnuson

Ric Magnuson


Allina Health

Ric Magnuson is responsible for ensuring resources are properly deployed to enhance the quality, safety and effectiveness of the care Allina Health provides to its patients.

Mr. Magnuson also served as senior vice president, Finance and Treasury, responsible for treasury, financial accounting & reporting, real estate, tax, design & construction, logistics, materials management, purchasing along with Supply Chain Management.

Previously, Magnuson served Allina Health from 1987 to 2004 in a variety of roles, including Chief Financial Officer for Mercy and Unity Hospitals and vice president of Finance and Operations at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. After leaving in 2004, he served as Chief Financial Officer of Fletcher Allen HealthCare in Vermont; Executive Vice President & Chief Financial and Administrative Officer of Group Health, in Washington; and Chief Financial Officer of City of Hope, an organization providing research around cancer and diabetes care.

Magnuson has a bachelor's degree at Augsburg College in accounting and finance and a master’s degree at the University of St. Thomas.

Penny Wheeler

Penny Wheeler, MD

President & CEO

Allina Health

Penny Wheeler, MD, is the president and CEO of Allina Health. Prior to her appointment as CEO, she served as the chief clinical officer, leading the organization's quality and value agendas. A board-certified ob/gyn, Dr. Wheeler served patients at Women's Health Consultants in Minneapolis, was president of Abbott Northwestern Hospital's medical staff, chaired the Quality Committee and served on the Board of Directors.

In addition to her current role, Dr. Wheeler chaired the Minnesota Community Measurement board, a health quality collaborative, and is on the board of Portico Healthnet, an organization dedicated to helping uninsured Minnesotans. She has presented nationally on Allina Health’s approach in quality advancement and outcomes-based payment models. Dr. Wheeler was named the 2012 Outstanding Health Care Executive, based on her ability to form care collaboratives and its impact on community health.

Dr. Wheeler has an undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota, and a doctorate of medicine from the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Do You Have


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Meet Our Host


Keith Figlioli

As a healthcare executive and operator for more than two decades, Keith J. Figlioli developed a deep understanding of the market and a network of healthcare insiders that he brings together in his role at LRVHealth, a venture capital firm focused exclusively on digital health investments.



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