Cleveland Clinic's Semih Sen on business growth in healthcare and why it's a challenge

Semih Sen became Cleveland Clinic's first chief business development officer July 1. Here he discusses his new responsibilities and how he hopes to help set the organization up for success.

Question: What are your key responsibilities as chief business development officer?

Semih Sen: Overall, our goal is to build an entrepreneurial core for Cleveland Clinic to proactively pursue opportunities that will eventually benefit our patients, our organization and the wider industry.

I'll be responsible in driving transformational healthcare partnerships and alliances with other players in the healthcare industry and other adjacent industries that create value for Cleveland Clinic.

I will also oversee the work of Cleveland Clinic Innovations office, where I plan to leverage Cleveland Clinic's centurylong experience as an innovator in new clinical and operational solutions. In addition, I will work to identify and assess new opportunities around them. I'll also be focused on creating diversified revenue streams for Cleveland Clinic through joint ventures and commercialization of Cleveland Clinic intellectual property.

Q: What excites you most in your new role?

SS: Healthcare is undergoing an unprecedented transformation, and Cleveland Clinic is best positioned to play a significant role in the design of the future of healthcare. As a physician-led, patient-centered organization, our 'patients first' mantra makes us the closest and most trusted connection to the patient which new solutions, whether digital or clinical, should be centered around.

Our recent international and domestic growth gives us unparalleled perspective in what our patients and caregivers need and what we need as a healthcare organization to deliver the best care possible to them. All we need is to combine this perspective and understanding of complex problems with what is available out there in terms of technology and know-how, partnerships to craft solutions which work for patients, caregivers and communities as a whole. The most exciting part of my role is to be able to see the real big picture and being able to create global impact.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you anticipate facing in your new role?

SS: Unlike in other industries, translating a new idea from discovery into a functional product for human use is a complex process in healthcare. This involves an entire ecosystem of regulators, players, big and small businesses, caregivers and patients. Alignment and timing would be my two biggest challenges.

Q: What are some key aspects of a growth plan for healthcare organizations today?

SS: Healthcare providers deliver the most complex service with the highest 'value-add' for the patient. However, they often operate with low, single-digit net margins, or even at a loss. Therefore, we'd like to create opportunities for growth from within and from external partnerships that utilize more cost-efficient solutions, more efficient use of technology and evolve our innovations office for future healthcare growth strategies.

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