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Bill George

Harvard Business School Professor, former Medtronic CEO

Post Bulletin: Summit Sets Sights on Health Care Delivery

From PostBulletin.com, posted September 18, 2015

Four years after its creation, the Mayo Clinic Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery kicked off its inaugural Delivery Science Summit on Wednesday.

The three-day conference at Mayo Civic Center is the ambitious initiative’s first opportunity to gather medical, big-data and clinical-research professionals in order to move academic initiatives closer to implementation.

The three goals of the gathering were “the holy grail” of health-care reform, in the words of Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy: improve population health, improve the patient experience and better manage costs.

This means looking beyond the best treatments for illnesses, said course director Dr. Lois Krahn, to understanding the barriers preventing health systems from delivering those treatments on a consistent basis.

“We hope our participants will gain an appreciation of high-quality health-care delivery, that it’s important to get the right diagnosis, and critical to get the right treatment. But unless that reaches the patient, we will not reach our objective.”

The center was made possible by a $100 million gift from benefactors Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern, and its work is meant to be shared.

“It’s really a chance to begin to roll up our sleeves to fix health care as a team,” said Dr. Veronique Roger, director of the center, who said that a big challenge is learning how to take ideas into practice. “How do we get it to become business as usual, that’s the big question. It takes 17 years for information to get from the lab into practice. We need to compress that time.”

Speakers drew attention to integrated care and team-based medicine, historically Mayo attributes positioning the center to become a leading voice on the question of how to repair a fragmented system.

“We are organized around hospital needs and departments,” said opening speaker and former Medtronic CEO William George. “We need to organize health systems around patients, and not siloed departments.”

George also called for organizing care around disease states and not medical specialties, in order to insure that specialties work together. “All too often we are reimbursing outputs,” he said, “not outcomes.”

His other targets included “the unhealthy competition between primary and specialty care,” and the idea that only those at the top of the system can make change happen.

“Leadership happens at every level,” he said. “The missing element in health care is the absence of leaders. Each of us is called upon to lead and do what we can to make changes in the system.”

“We need a deeper understanding of the last three feet of health care,” he said, “the distance between me and my doctor, or my nurse or my receptionist. We have to understand the last three feet of medicine.”

The meeting drew 80 percent of its 350 attendees from within Mayo Enterprise, but also drew visitors from six countries and 23 states. It continues today through Friday at the Mayo Civic Center.