As an industrial engineer with a master’s degree in business finance, Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group CEO Mike Henne falls within the 5 percent of operating room directors nationally who aren’t registered nurses.

It’s  very uncommon for someone with his background to become CEO of an orthopedic group, said Henne, who has led several surgery centers over the last 42 years, including in Michigan, Florida, Ohio, California and now Colorado.

But someone with Henne’s professional background was exactly what CSOG was looking for.

CSOG is one of the largest independently owned groups in southern Colorado. With two locations, 17 physicians specialize in sports injuries, limb injuries, arthritis and other ailments. The group also provides digital X-rays and MRI scans.

Henne considered retiring before a partner with CSOG asked if he would like to discuss the executive position. He started as the interim CEO in January 2016 before taking over as CEO months later. He may retire sometime next year, but that is still up in the air, he said.

Henne takes pride in the fact that as many as 90 percent of the company’s 5,500 monthly patients do not require surgery.

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When surgery is required, the group can perform more than 500 per month, Henne added.

Another accomplishment Henne is proud of is the December installation of a new MRI machine at the group’s Briargate location.

When Henne isn’t running the business side of the company, he travels  to Michigan every other weekend where he lives with his wife. There he referees soccer, which keeps him healthy and active outside work, he said.

Henne spoke with the Business Journal about the benefits of running an independently owned firm in Colorado Springs.

How did you become the CEO of Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group?

I started as an industrial engineer in a hospital looking for ways to make things more efficient. I ended up getting into [managing] surgery [centers] and doing projects and eventually ended up being director of surgery in different institutions.

Most of my experience has been with hospitals — the closest that I came to [my current position] is when I was in Miami and was running an ambulatory surgery center down there for [Hospital Corporation of America]. There it’s a shared ownership between HCA and the physicians.

Explain your leadership approach.

The MRI downstairs … the one we had was 14 years old. It was getting older than its useful life. [It] is a significant investment; it was well over $1 million to replace it. So my management style is, if this were my checkbook, what would I want you to show me in order for me to write that check? Rather than sit here in my office and say OK, we need a new MRI scanner, I included the people from the technicians to the supervisors saying, ‘What do you guys think?’ I see my role in the management of this organization as knocking down barriers. If you have people who know what they’re doing and they’re good at it — let them do their job.

What is the benefit of having an independently owned group?

The biggest advantage is you’re able to, with the patient, give them choices. Being independent … you have to have high quality and you also have to have relationships. Those relationships have to be with the patient and the physicians who are referring [patients] to you, because if you lose either one of those, your referrals or your incoming patient volume’s going to decrease and you eventually won’t be in business. … Your top priority [is your outcomes]. Are my patients happy with me? Are the people referred to me happy?

At an independent practice you’re a smaller entity and you have to not only worry about your quality, but you’re also part of a partnership — you’re looking at everybody’s quality, which is why we have peer review groups.

How does being an independently owned group affect the local business community?

Let’s say I’m a Walmart or a Target and I’m dealing with my health plan and I’m looking at trying to cut down [on increased costs] that come every year — I’m going to be looking for options. If I see [a plan featuring] an independent group —quality is a given — that has the options to drive my costs down based on the choices they make with the patient, whether they go outpatient or inpatient, that is a benefit to me … as a retailer.