Dr. Marc Harrison, CEO of Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, suggested to us that the industry's push to innovate might be made easier if executives know they aren't leaping into the unknown alone or even for the first time.
your riskiest decision Probably how we built out our telehealth services. Another difficult, not risky move was taking down our regional structures.
What was risky about it? Telehealth done right lowers the total cost of care and should lower out-of-pocket costs for patients, but it also systematically lowers revenue for the enterprise. It requires a lot of discipline. With restructuring, it was really difficult because it required people to relearn their jobs. It also unmasked areas where we had unintentionally competing priorities.
the outcome It's been fantastic. We launched one of the largest digital hospitals in the U.S. We have all of the intensive-care unit beds in the entire system monitored by our Tele-Critical Care program. And in every hospital we serve in that fashion, the risk of mortality, cost per case, length of stay, and need for transfer all go down. It's also making our smaller hospitals financially viable.
The restructuring has been really successful, too. One of our chief nursing officers who now works in quality recently said, “You know, I was pretty sure that my colleagues and I were doing things all the same way, but now I can see how divergent we were.” And, she said, “I'd never go back.”
the response from those involved? The proof is in the pudding, and one of our rural hospitals noticed that patients were choosing to die rather than to get chemotherapy at one of our major centers that was a two- to three-hour drive. That spurred the local leaders of that organization to set up a tele-oncology program. Patients now are not spending their lives driving back and forth and the cost is more reasonable. When you tell a story like that, people get it.