How tech can fill the gap to make care more accessible and equitable: Q&A with George Washington University Hospital CEO Kimberly Russo

Kimberly Russo is CEO of George Washington University Hospital, a Washington, D.C.-based hospital with more than 750 physicians.

Question: What is the most interesting patient-facing innovation you are working on today?

Kimberly Russo: As an academic medical center, a major component of our mission at The George Washington University Hospital is to bring the latest technology to our patients in order to advance care, experience and outcomes. We are proud to be to be one of the first hospitals to bring various new and innovative capabilities to our patients. We recently became the first hospital in the country to use Novarad’s augmented reality in surgery, as well as the first to use Surgical Theater’s virtual reality in thoracic surgery. We also were the first in the world to use the Medrobotic Flex Robot for colorectal surgery. This flexible robot system reduces incisions as it allows physicians to access hard to reach areas.

In addition to our surgical capabilities, we use technology to enhance patient experience. For example, last year, we were the first hospital in D.C. to implement the NicView camera system which is a 24/7 camera stream, allowing families of NICU babies to see view their child at all times. This has been really well received and is a differentiator for us in maternity care.

Q: What will be the most important patient experience innovation 18 months from now? How are you pivoting in that direction?

KR: As we move toward a focus on population health, our biggest and most important focus is ensuring that we are making healthcare accessible and equitable to all. We want to ensure that our patients are receiving the right level of care, in the right setting and at the right time. We are continuing to evaluate ways that we can expand our access to care in order to best meet our community’s needs and provide patients with the best outcomes.

Q: How have you recruited and built your innovation team? Who are ideal candidates or team members and what are their backgrounds?

KR: We are proud to have nationally and internationally recognized surgeons who are committed to education and research. As an academic medical center, we are constantly looking for ways to enhance care and we are dedicated to a learning environment. As new capabilities become available, we work with our educational partners to evaluate these items and bring them into our practice. For example, the GW School of Medicine’s Clinical Learning and Simulation Skills (CLASS) Center provides one of the most innovative educational environments in the nation. Here, students supplement their classroom learning with comprehensive clinical exposure, feedback and evaluation that prepare them to become both technically adept and compassionate caregivers. The CLASS Center provides state-of-the art high-fidelity patient simulators, robotic training, and surgical simulators to provide hands-on practice of essential skills, procedures and critical care training.

Q: If you could make your hospital or health system more like one other company or industry, what would it be?

KR: At GW Hospital, we strive consistently to deliver more tomorrow than we do today. Given the constant focus we have on pioneering innovative methods and reaching new heights, I would compare the academic healthcare industry and our hospital to that of the aerospace industry. Similar to space exploration, we are always looking for new ways to push beyond current boundaries and venture where others have not been before, in the interest of benefiting mankind.

Join us for the Becker's Hospital Review 3rd Annual Health IT + Clinical Leadership + Pharmacy Conference, May 19-21, 2020 in Chicago. Topics include artificial intelligence, telehealth, data analytics, clinician burnout, population health, pharmaceutical care and more. Learn more and register here. For more information about exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities, contact Maggie Dunne at

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