3 healthcare execs on whether disruptors like Amazon, Walmart are friend or foe: 'We have to take them incredibly seriously'

Though Amazon, Apple, Walmart and other consumer-centric companies certainly pose major challenges as they move into healthcare, that transition can also greatly benefit more traditional players in the industry.

During a keynote panel at the Becker's Hospital Review CEO + CFO Roundtable in Chicago on Nov. 12, three healthcare executives discussed the changing landscape of healthcare. Panelists included Wendy Rheault, PhD, president and CEO of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago; Tony Tedeschi, MD, CEO of Detroit Medical Center; and Neil de Crescenzo, president and CEO of Nashville, Tenn.-based Change Healthcare.

Together, the panelists illustrated what the successful healthcare system of the future might look like, and how leaders can begin working right away to achieve that vision. "We can't put our heads in the sand on this one," Dr. Tedeschi said.

"It's going to require us to take a different look at how we do things. Fundamentally, I know, that's frightening, but we owe it to ourselves and to our patients and communities to really engage in this," he continued. "Ultimately, it's going to mean improving quality, redesigning systems and taking some costs out of the infrastructure."

Just as healthcare organizations must be proactive in adapting to healthcare's ongoing transformation, so too must medical schools prepare students for this changing system. 

"Our students are learners and are leading, and we need to make sure that we are helping them to be ready for the new system where high-value care is important," Dr. Rheault said. "There is a huge disconnect between the environment and what we all advocate for and acknowledge — that high-value care is needed — and the academic training that our physicians and other health professionals are getting."

Both Mr. de Crescenzo and Dr. Tedeschi also discussed why it will be absolutely necessary for healthcare organizations to partner with the disruptive forces of big tech and other consumer-first entities, which must be taken "incredibly seriously," according to Dr. Tedeschi.

In forming these partnerships, Mr. de Crescenzo said, "one of the most important things is to determine as a leadership team what you are truly, uniquely good at and then seek out world-class partners — in advance, before it becomes obvious that everybody's trying to seek them out — and develop the kind of relationships with the senior executives at those organizations that are based upon enormous clarity as to what you do well, what they do well and how, in working together, one and one can equal three." 

He added, "That starts with being very specific about what your organization is good at and what other organizations can do to help you in your ultimate aim."

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