Becker's 10th Annual Meeting Speaker Series: 3 Questions with Robert C. Garrett, Chief Executive Officer for Hackensack Meridian Health

Robert C. Garrett serves as Chief Executive Offier for Hackensack Meridian Health.

On April 4th, Robert will speak at Becker's Hospital Review 10th Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place April 1-4, 2019 in Chicago.

To learn more about the conference and Robert's session, click here.

Question: What one strategic initiative will demand the most of your time and energy in 2019?

Robert Garrett: Continuing to transform our network to create the future care delivery enterprise. We do this by focusing on quality, on continuing our pursuit to be a High Reliability Organization and enhancing the patient experience through care transformation services. We look at the treatment of illness holistically, rather than episodically, to reduce variance in treatment, cost and outcome. Our care transformation services include behavioral health care, cardiovascular, oncology, pediatrics, neurosciences and musculoskeletal care.

Q: What do innovators/entrepreneurs from outside healthcare need to better understand about hospital and health system leaders?

RG: They must grasp how complex health care networks are today and the multiple issues that are competing for our attention on a daily, even hourly basis. That’s why it is essential to create clear pathways for innovation so that we can reach our mission to transform health care without getting lost in the bureaucracy.

A quick example: We launched Bear’s Den, our version of Shark Tank, to ensure that we can expedite the best ideas to deliver care more effectively and to enhance the patient experience. Our network created a $25 million innovation fund and so far this streamlined approach is moving the needle on innovation. We funded Pillo, a home-health robot that dispenses medication and helps keep patients on track and PurpleSun, a promising innovation that uses ultraviolet light to kill germs that lead to hospital-acquired infections. It’s been so successful that we are opening Bear’s Dens in all of our 17 hospitals to encourage front-line team innovation.

Q: Tell us about the last meaningful interaction you had with a patient.

RG: I have been fortunate to be inspired by so many courageous patients. It’s a true highlight of my job. One gentleman stays with me. Mike, a husband, father and grandfather, is a hospice patient with a beautiful, loving family. He is the embodiment of living life gracefully in the face of terminal illness. His spirit is amazing and he is grateful for the compassionate care he received. But I think all of us are the real beneficiaries to see such an amazing man so focused on living a beautiful life, regardless of prognosis. I was so honored when he could join us at a Giant’s football game. I won’t ever forget his courage and humanity. Mike has an inspiring message for all of us: He said he has the greatest life anyone could ask for. Every person who has been part of it has added to his life. He is touched by how good people are. What a compelling message for all of us!

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