Industry executives debate future of health care, role of partnerships at council event
On April 25, the Nashville Health Care Council convened nearly 300 members to hear from top executives on the outlook of health care delivery in the next decade and beyond. Guest panelists included Linda Finkel, president of AVIA; Russell L. Holman, M.D., chief medical officer of LifePoint Health; and Jonathan B. Perlin, M.D., chief medical officer and president, clinical services, HCA Healthcare.
The discussion was moderated by Marc Watkins, M.D., chief medical officer and vice president for medical affairs, The Little Clinic, and focused on how health systems are innovating and collaborating amid a transforming industry to create meaningful advancements in the way Americans receive care.
Perlin described the important role data science plays in the transformation of health care and improving clinical outcomes, citing HCA’s innovative use of data in its ICU strategies, which set new national standards for cutting infections by nearly half.
“Dashboards give us the insight on how to fly the plane,” Perlin said. “Real-time decision support helps us navigate patient care to the best measurable outcomes.”
Holman pointed out that, while data is important, he believes collaboration among health systems is an essential piece of fostering innovation and impacting the future of care.
“We need to define the problem and then look at technology and data to help solve it,” Holman said. “You don’t have to invent every idea. That’s the great thing about partnerships – they leverage the capabilities of multiple organizations to solve complex problems. Most hospitals have identical strategic plans. There’s no lack of ideas out there, but what will differentiate a company is execution.”
Finkel, who leads Chicago-based health innovation network AVIA, with a membership base of 34 health systems, discussed the difficulty that today’s hospitals have in the execution of innovation. She emphasized the need for hospitals to break down silos to tackle the challenges facing all of today’s hospitals and health systems.
“Collaboration is a rising tide that can lift all boats,” Finkel said. “Our approach isn’t collaboration to commiserate, but collaboration that results in action. By working together, it no longer becomes necessary for hospitals to make internal trade-offs for innovation that improves only one sector of operations. You have only so much bandwidth, so it’s important that your efforts check more than one box.”
Later, the conversation shifted to the future of hospitals, the growth of outpatient strategies and the creation of health care ecosystems.
“When you address the very basics of the social determinants of health, you start moving the needle in a very different way,” said Holman, in reference to hospital executives’ challenge to partner with organizations outside the traditional health care space, giving examples such as fire departments, Meals on Wheels and the YMCA. “All of these agencies are trying to solve common problems in their own silos, and hospitals can serve as the convener of these agencies to drive vastly better results.”
All three panelists shared similar perspectives on telehealth’s ability to transcend geography and home health’s potential for keeping costly readmissions down. Perlin, however, added that with the epidemic of chronic disease and an aging society, the hospital is still the appropriate home for major procedures and critical illness. The three also shared an appreciation for the collaboration made possible through the Nashville Health Care Council and the unique ecosystem it supports.
“The challenge is that data is messy, but the opportunity to make sense of that messy data is exciting. We are working with tech companies here in Nashville to understand the vital context within the data, which can lead to massively improved outcomes,” Perlin said. “Nashville is a town of entrepreneurs, built on networks and partnerships, and I’m confident it will help lead us to solutions.”
“That’s why I love the Nashville Health Care Council. You don’t have to do it all yourself,” Finkel said. “We need this kind of collaboration and innovation. Either disrupt yourself or be disrupted.”