Hospital and health system leaders shared how their organizations are driving innovation to advance health in the communities they serve and enhance the patient experience during a special panel at this week’s 20th Annual Not-for-Profit Health Care Investor Conference in New York City. 
The two-day conference, sponsored by AHA, Citi and the Healthcare Financial Management Association, provides an important opportunity for not-for-profit health systems to maintain a dialogue with investors and allows these systems to spotlight how they are evolving not just their organizations but health care more broadly in the communities they serve.

In a discussion moderated by Andy Shin, chief operating officer of the AHA Center for Health Innovation, leaders from Banner Health, Cleveland Clinic and HCA Healthcare discussed how their organizations innovate strategically and are deploying technology to improve care and enhance both the patient and clinician experience.

“Innovation is an imperative for all of us,” said Jonathan Perlin, M.D., president of clinical services and chief medical officer, HCA Healthcare. “We’re an organization that relishes both solutions and problems … every time there’s a problem, it means that there’s an opportunity to improve value.”

Perlin, a former AHA board chair, described how HCA Healthcare uses scale to “learn and improve at speed” and disperse proven innovations across the organization in both clinical and administrative areas.

Similarly, Cleveland Clinic is “perpetually dissatisfied with the status quo,” said William Morris, M.D., the organization’s associate chief information officer. “We feel it is, at our core, our obligation to solve for tomorrow’s solutions.” Priority areas for Cleveland Clinic are driving down cost, creating a frictionless consumer experience and addressing clinician burnout, he noted.

“Innovation is about discipline … tied to your mission and tied to your strategies,” said Scott Nordlund, chief strategy and growth officer, Banner Health, noting that it’s easy for an organization to be distracted by innovation if there is not a driving strategy.

Banner has focused a large part of its innovation strategy on improving the patient experience using a number of technologies at various steps along the patient journey.

“There are so many things out there,” he noted. “Unless you are trying to put it into a discipline,” innovating won’t have the positive impact an organization is seeking.

An organization’s digital strategy “has to be driven by the problem you’re trying to solve,” said Morris. Technology “has to be the means to achieve something” rather than just the latest thing, and it has to be applied “judiciously,” he said.

Perlin agreed that technology, deployed strategically, has “the potential to be the collective memory, the space that allows an organization to improve.” He shared how HCA Healthcare’s electronic health record strategy has been about more than just digitizing records, it’s also been about creating a learning health system. “It was a very clear strategy about creating a virtuous learning cycle,” he said.

The panelists stressed that innovation requires collaboration, within an organization and with outside partners. 

“If you’re not comfortable collaborating, you can’t innovate,” said Nordlund. “It’s that simple.”

For more on the AHA Center for Health Innovation, visit 

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