Podcast: Tech Is Easy. Change Is Hard.

Jack Murtha
JANUARY 25, 2019


How can health systems enact major change? Whether the transformation centers on value-based care, clinical tech or business initiatives, the answer to this question doesn’t come easily. But the industry is full of health systems and healthcare leaders who have ushered in meaningful change, in the face of cultural and technological resistance.

In this episode of Data Book, we tell the story of how Ascension Health — the largest Catholic and nonprofit health system in the U.S. — rallied its leaders and employees to make one such major change. Way back in 2002, the health system set out to eliminate preventable deaths in its hospitals and clinics. Eight years later, Ascension found that it had saved patients from 1,500 to 5,000 avoidable deaths per year.

>> WATCH: Changing the Landscape of Healthcare

Of course, this tremendous feat didn’t just happen. It took evidence-based tactics, micro-goals, top-down and bottom-up buy-in, committed leadership and an across-the-board desire to reach this destination. Without any one of these attributes, Ascension’s plan might have failed to cut the number of preventable deaths.

But the plan worked. (And you can read more about it here.)

Still, this sort of change is different from those facing tech-forward healthcare leaders in 2019. How can health systems implement, for example, artificial intelligence systems — and not just for the sake of them, but to revamp how clinicians and administrators work and how patients heal? And what about value-based care? Wearables data?

There are few proven roadmaps to follow. Sure, the successes are out there, and they’re often willing to tell their stories. But healthcare stands at the edge of the unknown.

To help understand the path forward, Data Book welcomes Andrew Pecora, M.D., chief innovation officer for Hackensack Meridian Health and a founder of the health data startup Cota. In our conversation, the renowned oncologist discusses how healthcare leaders can enact major changes, what kinds of changes they should consider and how to ensure a smooth cultural transition.

Anyway, thank you for listening to Data Book. Got a story of successful enterprise-level change? Or maybe a big failure? Let us know.

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