Christus Health CNO Debi Pasley on why healthcare isn't innovating faster

Debi Pasley, MS, BS, RN, is system senior vice president and CNO of Irving, Texas-based Christus Health, a system with more than 600 facilities, including more than 60 hospitals and long-term care facilities.

She became permanent CNO in January 2017 after serving as interim CNO since August 2016.

In her role, she leads nursing strategy across the system, which operates hospitals in Texas and two other U.S. states, as well as in Mexico, Chile and Colombia.  

Becker's caught up with Ms. Pasley to discuss the primary initiative she will focus on next year and her view on healthcare innovation.

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

Debi Pasley: Reimbursement for what we do has been and continues to diminish. We can no longer afford to expend resources on bright and shiny toys. We must prioritize our goals and not be distracted by those with a great idea or product which does not address our identified priorities. If we are to be effective stewards of the resources entrusted to us, we must stay focused and address those initiatives most important to operations and strategy. Potential innovators/entrepreneurs need to seek first to understand the need at hand.

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

DP: My extraordinary team and I will spend much of our year improving upon the model of care we have developed for our acute care environments. It has shown great promise, but just having enough people at the bedside is not sufficient. We must also continue to improve upon the quality of the care we deliver and assure that our outcomes and patient experiences are on a reliably upward trajectory. That will not happen without well controlled roll-outs of the new model, careful and consistent monitoring of the performance, and course corrections as indicated. Christus is honored to serve communities and three states and four nations. Those communities deserve the safety and quality they trust us to provide.

Q: Healthcare takes a lot of heat for not innovating quickly. What's your take on this?

DP: Innovating quickly brings with it risk that we will harm those we serve. As tempting as it is to reach for a solution which seems to have dropped from the heavens, exercising caution to assure a robust investigation and assurance that we will cause no harm is not a responsibility we can sidestep. 


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