Becker's 11th Annual Meeting: 4 Questions with Keith Mueller, PhD, Head Director of Rural Policy Research Institute, Department of Health Management and Policy and Gerhard Hartman Professor at University of Iowa College of Public Health. 

Keith Mueller, PhD, serves as Director of Rural Policy Research Institute, Department of Health Management and Policy, and Gerhard Hartman Professor and Head at the University of Iowa College of Public Health. 

On April 6th, Keith will serve on the panel "How to Build and Sustain High-Performing Teams - What’s Your Top Piece of Advice? How Do You Balance Consensus vs. Direction?" at Becker's Hospital Review 11th 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 on April 6-9, 2020 in Chicago.

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

Question: How can hospitals reconcile the need to maintain inpatient volumes with the mission to keep people healthier and out of the hospital?

Keith Mueller: Hospitals should focus on how they best serve their community as a health care organization (HCO), engaging in service delivery outside the walls of the inpatient institution. They can do so by building the organization’s capacity to serve, either through direct investment or through partnerships with community-based organizations (including clinical practices located in the community). The modern HCO looks to participate in new payment models that reward results that lower use of inpatient care beds.

Q: Where do you go for inspiration and fresh ideas?

KM: I learn the most when I have opportunities to learn directly from innovators in the field, which includes the administrative and clinical staff of small rural hospitals. Those individuals and organizations are incredible in how they accomplish so much for the communities with few resources.

Q: What do you see as the most exciting opportunity in healthcare right now?

KM: Bringing longstanding missions of community service to reality as the focus in delivery and payment policy moves from incentives for high volumes of particular services to incentives to keep people healthy in their living environment.

Q: Healthcare has had calls for disruption, innovation and transformation for years now. Do you feel we are seeing that change? Why or why not?

KM: We are seeing the change now, thanks to a handful of successful innovative HCOs and new disruptors. We don’t even need to see lots results to motivate organizations to move to the “cutting edge” in an industry with thin margins where not being in front of dynamic change may result in total failure.

"What's one lesson you learned early in your career that has helped you lead in healthcare?
The greatest lessons I learned in healthcare were three things on my first day of medical school: “listen to your patients they will tell you what is wrong, don’t be over-enamored with technology, and give every patient something for their time of need”. More true today!

What do you see as the most exciting opportunity in healthcare right now?
With society’s obsession with technology, now is the time to harness cutting edge technology to facilitate the human interaction, not replace it.

Healthcare has had calls for disruption, innovation and transformation for years now. Do you feel we are seeing that change? Why or why not?
As the saying goes, “One person’s innovation is another person’s disruption”. Transformation may be the most over-used word in healthcare today. True transformation (dramatic change) will come from a grass roots movement (outside the corporate walls) and led by synthetical thinkers who by doing what is best for patients will find it is best for business."

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