On the record: 50 best healthcare quotes of 2015

From the King vs. Burwell decision to hackers to superbugs, healthcare has not been short on action in 2015, nor have its top players been short on commentary to qualify it. The following 50 quotes from healthcare executives, politicians, physicians and others are the some of the most memorable words uttered in the healthcare space this year.

Here they are, in no particular order.  

1. "Pure applesauce."
Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court during the King vs. Burwell dissent on claims that the Affordable Care Act must equate federal and state exchanges if it defines "qualified individuals" as those who live in the "State that established the Exchange," because there would otherwise be no qualified individuals on federal exchanges.

2. "The statutory scheme compels the Court to reject petitioners' interpretation because it would destabilize the individual insurance market in any State with a Federal Exchange, and likely create the very 'death spirals' that Congress designed the Act to avoid."
John Roberts, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, in the ruling on King vs. Burwell

3. "We want to do good, but my biggest responsibility is that the people we send in are safe and come home safe. This may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the team. They are going to a beautiful country with beautiful people. The Nepalese are facing an enormous tragedy now, but the lessons the team will learn from them will last a lifetime."
Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder on sending a medical response team to Nepal after the April earthquake

4. "If we're perceived as a bully or we're perceived as arrogant through our actions, I don't want that. We know we have to soften our external relations, and get ourselves out of this place of being a miscreant in Massachusetts."
David "Torch" Torchiana, MD, CEO of Boston-based Partners HealthCare, The Boston Globe

5. "The biggest [surprise] is just how hard it is to move our patient satisfaction scores. Our other one is just how slow the rate of change actually is despite how breathless we all feel. We talk a lot about how pay is reforming, but I don't know a system that is not still on fee-for-service."
Kate Walsh, president and CEO of Boston Medical Center, at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting

6.  "[Physicians] are going to look at you sideways if you ask them to align, but if you ask them to be the leaders and determine what the future will look like, they will rise to the challenge."
Lucy Hammerberg, MD, chief quality officer of Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill., at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting

7. "For the wealthiest country in the world…to not have figured out access to basic healthcare as a fundamental right for individuals, I think is a little bit of a national embarrassment."
John Jay Shannon, MD, CEO of Cook County Health & Hospitals System (Chicago) HoH

8. "The inaccurate media reports on our program have made it significantly more challenging to build sustainable volume in our program. At this time we feel it is best to focus on other services needed by our community."
Statement from St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., on the decision to permanently close its pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program following a CNN report revealing the hospital's open-heart surgery death rate was more than three times the national average

9. "It's gotta go. Repeal and replace with something terrific."
Donald Trump, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, on the Affordable Care Act, in an interview with CNN

10. "Repeal of the ACA would let insurers write their own rules again, and wipe out coverage for 16 million Americans."
Hillary Rodham Clinton, candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, on Twitter

11. "Detroit has gone through incredibly difficult times, with bankruptcy and a 30 percent drop in the population. We have to constantly think about how to drive strategy to grow an organization that's not in a market that's growing."
Nancy M. Schlichting, CEO of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting

12. "Bob Dylan, to improve my language skills, I've read all your lyrics. I can read 800 million pages per second. My analysis shows your major themes are time passes and love fades."
IBM Watson, artificial intelligence robot that moved into health IT this year, on Bob Dylan's repertoire

13. "Although every hospital has a chargemaster, officials treat it as if it were an eccentric uncle living in the attic. Whenever I asked, they deflected all conversation away from it. They even argued that it is irrelevant."
Steven Brill, journalist, on hospital prices in "Bitter Pill," in TIME

14. "Now more than ever do we need all hands on deck. Physicians, social workers, nurses and case managers are all needed to make sure the care continuum is addressed."
Gyasi C. Chisley, CEO of Methodist North Hospital and senior vice president of Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tenn., at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting

15. "The essence of leadership is having the ability to alter what people think is possible, convince them that effort would be worth it and show them how it was their idea all along."
Teri Fontenot, president and CEO of Baton Rouge, La.-based Woman's Hospital, at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting

16. "I think more and more people, for various reasons, are going to want to go salaried somehow. I don't have anything against private practice. In fact, I'm delighted to have private practitioners. But clearly the practice across the United States is going more and more to employed physicians."
Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, MD, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic, in The Akron Beacon Journal

17. "It is almost impossible to clean correctly."
Mark Duro, the director of sterile processing operations at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston, on duodenoscopes linked to superbug infections and patient deaths

18. "We feel healthcare providers need to be reminded constantly about having this conversation in the outpatient space. They need to see the torture — it's not glamorous at all if you ignore these conversations."
Zubin "ZDogg MD" Damania, MD, founder and CEO of Turntable Health in Las Vegas, on end-of-life care discussions

19. "I need to create the end of patients needing to see us."
Rod Hochman, MD, president and CEO of Renton, Wash.-based Providence Health & Services, referring to the goal he has in mind for his system's population health efforts , at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting

20. "We are all in some state of transition from a volume- to value-based payment system. It takes an enormous amount of resources to track and improve on hundreds of core measures and outcome metrics. Prioritizing and focusing the team on the most critical elements requires great discipline."
Mary Lou Mastro Elmhurst (Ill.) Memorial Healthcare

21. "I oppose Obamacare and believe it has failed. It drove up premiums, took insurance away from people who were promised otherwise and usurped state programs. As I said in the campaign, I'd repeal it and replace it with state-crafted plans."
Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, in The Boston Globe

22. "We think it was false, and we think it was misleading."
Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos on The Wall Street Journal's report alleging the blood-test startup does not live up to its claims

23. "In the past I wasn't involved in many of the quality and infection control meetings, but with readmissions impacting reimbursement, I had to get involved."
Pamela Hess, CFO of Saint Thomas Midtown and Saint Thomas West hospitals in Nashville, Tenn., at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting

24. "It's important to create an environment where people have the courage to ask, 'Are we are putting good money after bad? Should we move on?' It's easy to talk about but harder to do, especially when you feel like your reputation is vested with the decisions."
Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of Catholic Health Association of the United States in Washington, D.C.

25. "I get a lot of satisfaction in helping eliminate red tape. That's what I love to do — eliminate red tape and kind of get through the very bureaucratic and fragmented state of healthcare in this country today."
Anthony Tersigni, EdD, president and CEO of Ascension in Edmundson, Mo.

26. "In my totally biased opinion, I would love to be able to eliminate any of the barriers that hospitals and healthcare systems that serve the most challenged communities might have to building retained earnings. We see 15 percent of people who have no insurance and 60 percent of our patients have Medicaid. We want to build a cushion to be able to enhance our services just as facilities in more affluent areas do. It goes hand in hand with what I believe: there shouldn't be levels of healthcare."
Karen Teitelbaum, president and CEO of Sinai Health System in Chicago

27. "Set your sights on the next decade, not the next day. Don't get bogged down in every single crisis — you need to not only focus on the incoming, but moving ahead."
Cecil Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America & Planned Parenthood Action Fund in New York, on leading under pressure at Chicago Ideas Week

28. "The uneventfulness of the event so far speaks to the tremendous preparation and hard work by thousands of professionals across the industry. We should be proud of them."
Albert Oriol, CIO, Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, on ICD-10

29. "The lack of a competitive health insurance market allows the few remaining companies to exploit their market power, dictate premium increases and pursue corporate policies that are contrary to patient interests. Health insurers have been unable to demonstrate that mergers create efficiency and lower health insurance premiums."
Steven Stack, MD, president of the AMA, in a statement on insurance mergers

30. "Whether you are a patient, a provider, a business, a health plan, or a taxpayer, it is in our common interest to build a healthcare system that delivers better care, spends healthcare dollars more wisely and results in healthier people. Today's announcement is about improving the quality of care we receive when we are sick, while at the same time spending our healthcare dollars more wisely."
HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell on the organization's goal to shift 50 percent of payments to value-based models by 2018

31. "There are going to be strong critics of this. We just have to be ready for that."
Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD, director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins University on barring low-volume procedures in U.S. News & World Report

32. "Unlawful financial arrangements between healthcare providers and their referral sources raise concerns about physician independence and objectivity. Patients are entitled to be sure that the care they receive is based on their actual medical needs rather than the financial interests of their physician."
Benjamin Mizer, head of the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Division, in a statement on Adventist Health System's record-breaking $118.7M settlement for improper physician compensation claims

33. "We have to get hospitals out of the business of hiring doctors."
Michael Reilly, MD, whistle-blower physician, on improper financial relationships with physicians across the country, in an interview with Kaiser Health News

34. "You are going to take some heat if you do it, but it prompts the medical community to provide more information to patients, and I think there is a hunger for it. Traffic on the database online has been a big affirmation."
Marshall Allen, reporter at ProPublica in New York on the Surgeon Scorecard

35. "For the most part, when there's smoke, there's fire."
Mark Wagar, president of Northridge, Calif.-based Heritage Medical Systems, about physicians who claim their patients are sicker when faced with poor performance results

36. "I want to personally apologize to each of you for what has happened, as I know you expect us to protect your information. We will continue to do everything in our power to make our systems and security processes better and more secure, and hope that we can earn back your trust and confidence in Anthem."
Joseph Swedish, CEO of Indianapolis-based Anthem, after it was breached

37. "What we're fearful of is healthcare being the new target because we have so much data to be accessed and, unfortunately, for hackers to profit from. As an industry, we have to develop new standards, and those standards need to be implemented across the board in order to get in front of the challenges that we're facing."
Cletis Earle, Vice President and CIO, St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh, N.Y., following the Anthem breach

38. "This isn't the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is us trying to stay in business."
Martin Shkrel, founder and chief executive of Turing Pharmaceutical, on increasing the price of a drug by more than 5,000 percent, in The New York Times

39. "This was a bipartisan effort, Republicans and Democrats coming together to do something that's smart and common-sense, and my hope is it becomes a habit."
U.S. President Barack Obama on the "doc fix," as quoted by The Hill

40. "When I started the company, I had no idea how to do marketing, so we just didn't do it. What I did know, because I was a technical person, is to be able to write good software. So we focused on writing good software, and we focused on doing good support. And then fortunately, word of mouth did the rest."
Judy Faulkner, founder and CEO of Epic in Verona, Wis.

41. "It's right for people to think, 'Is this the way we should spend our healthcare dollars?'"
Gregg Meyer, MD, chief clinical officer at Partners HealthCare in Boston on the system's $1.2 billion Epic rollout, inThe Boston Globe

42. "The readmissions reduction program is designed to penalize hospitals for poor quality of care, but our findings suggest that hospitals are penalized to a large extent based on the patients that they serve."
J. Michael McWilliams, MD, PhD, associate professor of healthcare policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School and practicing internist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, on CMS' readmission reduction program in JAMA Internal Medicine

43. "She's a hard person not to like. It's like you always admire the best players on the other team, and you wish they were on your team. I admire Secretary Burwell a great deal, and I wish she was on my side of the aisle."
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) on HHS Secretary Burwell in The Hill

44. "We claim on banners, websites, and pamphlets that, in addition to pursuing excellence in research and medical education, we seek to improve the health of our communities. But rarely, it seems to me, are those communities defined — or consulted. The people who live near and work in these institutions appear to have no place in these missions: they are not celebrated as our colleagues, nor can they afford to be our patients."
Benjamin Oldfield, MD, internal medicine and pediatrics resident at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, on healthcare institutions providing care for the real people in their communities in NEJM

45. "I have this fundamental belief the infrastructure of healthcare is obsolete. It's all pre-Internet. But because we love healthcare and because it's a public good, we create a regulatory environment where it's hard for it to die."
Jonathan Bush, cofounder, CEO and president of Watertown, Mass.-based athenahealth National Healthcare Innovation Summit in June

46. "Physician morale today is what nurse morale was in the mid-1990s. This is a feeling of a loss of control of their environment and future. Over 50 percent of primary care, critical care and emergency physicians report being burned out. If we cannot improve the current environment of the physicians today, we will lose the future physicians. Based on intelligence, skill and education, physicians are the best of the best. Other industries treat their top performers much better than we treat physicians in their work environment."
Quint Studer, founder of the Studer Group

47. "It is our hope that the essay will gnaw on the consciences of readers who may recall an instance of their own repugnant behavior. The story is an opportunity to see what this behavior looks like to others and starkly shows that it is anything but funny. After finishing it, readers guilty of previous offense will hopefully think twice before acting in a manner that demeans patients and makes trainees and colleagues squirm. Again, if the essay squelches such behavior even once, then it was well worth publishing."
Editors of the Annals of Internal Medicine on an anonymous essay they published from a physician who recounts disturbing incidents of lewd comments and unprofessional behavior among health professionals

48. "Approach it like just another dog and pony show. You'll be able to handle it. I leaned on that a whole lot more early in my career than I do today, but it's simple advice that anyone can use in a variety of settings — calm down, take a deep breath and go."
Kevin Lofton, CEO of the Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives, on how to manage uncertainty

49. "It requires a combination of efforts. I'm incredibly optimistic, but I worry sometimes that it can't be a regulatory thing, it can't be a huge financial hit and it can't just be us."
Larry Goodman, MD, CEO of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and president of Rush University, on population health management at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting

50. "We shouldn't feel sorry for ourselves. A lot of us say, 'Oh my God, how could this be happening. Look at all the unpredictable things happening all the time.' These are happening in every industry."
Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Great Neck, N.Y.-based North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting


More articles on leadership and management:

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Top 5 most innovative companies — and 4 attributes that set them apart


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