Netflix co-founder urges healthcare leaders to develop 'tolerance of risk'

Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph and former Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, MD, shared advice with 1,500 medical professionals and executives Sept. 12 at the Healthcare Analytics Summit in Salt Lake City, according to Desert News.

During the summit, Mr. Randolph shared a story about how he and Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings met with Blockbuster executives several years ago to see if Blockbuster was interested in buying their company. Netflix was a little more than two years old at the time and struggling financially.

Mr. Randolph and Mr. Hastings offered to sell Netflix to Blockbuster for $50 million. "The meeting went downhill very quickly after that," Mr. Randolph said.

The deal didn't happen, but Mr. Randolph and Mr. Hastings were determined to help their company succeed. Today, Netflix has more than 130 million paying customers, and Blockbuster has one remaining store in the U.S.

Mr. Randolph used the story to illustrate the importance for innovators in all industries, including healthcare, to develop a "tolerance for risk" and to have confidence and optimism.

"It was not about having good ideas," Mr. Randolph told attendees. "It was about a system and a culture of trying lots of bad ones. What we realized is that the key to this is not the good idea. It was how quickly and easily and cheaply you could try as many ideas as you could think of."

During the summit, Dr. Cosgrove, who is currently an adviser for Google Healthcare & Life Sciences, discussed how Netflix's approach differs from the path taken by most healthcare organizations.

He said the lack of innovation at some hospitals and health systems stems from the way physicians are trained. "You're not selected or trained to be innovative. You're trained to be repetitive and maintain the status quo," he said.

Dr. Cosgrove also shared some advice for health system leaders looking for ways to attract innovative physicians and how big-data collection and the real-world application of data will play a key role.

"I don't think great physicians, or innovative physicians, are going to go to places that don't have data capability," Dr. Cosgrove told attendees. "That's going to become an increasing coin of the realm. I mean, it's a must-have."

Access the full Desert News article here.

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