Stanford Health Care CEO David Entwistle: Hospitals aren't the center of the healthcare universe

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with David Entwistle, president and CEO of Stanford (Calif.) Health Care.   

Mr. Entwistle will speak on a keynote panel at Becker's Hospital Review 7th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable titled "Being a Digitally Driven Healthcare Organization / Application of AI in Healthcare" at 12:45 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12. Learn more about the event and register to attend in Chicago.

Question: What major challenges are affecting hospitals in the markets you serve?

David Entwistle: We, as hospital administrators, are caught up in the belief that the hospital is the center of the universe. We do the things the way we want, and we keep doing them that way. However, outside our hospital walls, people have moved on. Especially our patients and communities. They care about ease of access and convenience. We need to respond to what our patients — our consumers — want. And, quite frankly, that is often outside of our usual thinking and way we deliver care.

Q: How can hospital executives and physicians ensure they're aligned around the same strategic goals?

DE: We must do a better job at communicating with each other. That means we need to regularly sit down to work on plans and develop them together. These processes cannot be successful if they happen in silos. At Stanford, we worked across different departments last year to develop our new integrated strategic plan. The result is a comprehensive strategy for the health system, the adult hospital, the school of medicine, and the children's hospital that everyone is passionate about and bought into. Having developed the plan together made all the difference.

Q: What is one piece of professional advice you would give to your younger self?

DE: First, don't take things too seriously. Second, whatever I decide, always start with the question, What is best for the patient? What will the outcome of the decision mean for our patients? A few years ago, I became a patient myself because of an accident. That really changed how I look at things and how I make decisions. Our patients are consumers now and they care a whole lot about the experience they have at a hospital. That should drive what we do.

Q: What is one of the most interesting healthcare industry changes you've observed in recent years?

DE: To me, it's definitely the advent of digital health and what that means for us and our patients. In this age of genomics and big data, we've gotten so much better at determining which causes are at the root of diseases and how we can diagnose previously undiagnosed diseases and conditions. It is just phenomenal what we can do once data becomes actionable information, even though we are still not able to treat everyone successfully.

Q: What do you see as the most vulnerable part of a hospital's business?

DE: We still don't fully understand our patients' expectations. Quite often, the outcomes we aspire to are not aligned with those of our patients. And the different subgroups within our communities often have very different expectations. Millennials, for example, don't just care about getting and staying healthy. They expect access to their information on their phones. They expect to reach their care teams electronically. That is what they're used to from other industries. And yet, in the healthcare industry we still don't meet their basic expectations when it comes to communications.

 Q: What's one conviction in healthcare that needs to be challenged?

DE: We need to acknowledge that we don't have all the answers. We need to listen to each and every patient and his or her perspective and make decisions together. Our patients are educated consumers who have a better idea of their body and the way they work. We need to take all of that into account when we make decisions. Our goal should always be to fully engage the patient in decision-making processes.


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