Technically Philly: PHMC Relocates to Improve Productivity

CEO Richard Cohen (L) and Mike McCain (R) discuss their new building and the company's new technology.

Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a non-profit organization that helps provide health resources to the public. We spoke with PHMC president and CEO Richard Cohen (above, left) and PHMC CIO Mike McCain (right) about relocating their headquarters to 1500 Market Street.

How has the company changed since it started?

RC: I came here in 1980 and we were about $1.5 million in annual revenue we are now well over $200 million in annual revenue serving 350,000 people. We’re increasingly understanding that to improve the public health of the community, you need to do things that begin at birth and end at death and everything in the middle is really public health.

How does the new design help productivity?

RC: We went out and looked at spaces and understood what we needed to do to open space up, to bring people together and do things in a green way that allowed people to work closer together, to understand each other, to talk to each other, instead of about each other. The traditional office with closed walls created silos. The opening pushes people to collaborate and work, to know each other to know each other’s programs, and to commit to a common goal of working together.

Can you talk about the new technology in the office?

MM: A lot of our programs and a lot of our locations are built so that we can use less paper and be more digital, while still giving people in the community the ability to input data without creating more paper. In the internal processes of PHMC we are really pushing to make all of our systems unified. Unifying systems reduces costs, it also requires less to manage so that was very important to us the new culture.

Your new statement says there’s been not just a physical change but also a cultural change, how has the culture changed?

New open spaces allow workers to communicate freelyRC: If you look around and compare the way people came to work, the simple physical appearance of people. People dress better, are happy with each other, are happier to be here working. In addition, by forcing people to talk to each other, people are able to learn from each other.

Why invest in all this new technology now?

MMC: We want to be able to promote public health in ways that people may have not thought of, by reducing the number of things we need to manage and leveraging the technology to do it. We are really creating a perfect world for change. We want to push the technology so that people can collaborate more.

RC: Space like this encourages young, interested, committed people to come to work in public health. It’s in part a recruitment technique across age cohorts, it brings people who are interested in change that are excited to do things into a workplace where they can work together to get things done.

PHMC employees work in a new meeting room.

What’s been the publics’ response to the move?
RC: It’s been enormous! People that have come and have been supportive of the cause and we are really proud of that, and happy about it and we feel very fortunate that we’ve gotten that kind to support. We’re in this space, at a per square foot cost that is no more than the old space that we were in. And that money has not come from the programs that we serve so that we are not using the money from programs to build any of this office.

Where do you see PHMC going in the future?

RC: We are talking about potential community sites where we might bring a variety of our community programs and brother and sister agencies together. We want to do that in communities and then go further in providing that. It’s a real community process to get to where we are and that’s true of all of our programs in the community. The people that really deserve our respect are the people delivering the services in our community. They are incredibly committed people in the communities and they serve them very well.

– Text and images by Dan Marcel and Kaylin Quinn.

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