Vituity’s Imamu Tomlinson on Healthcare’s Next Act

Between workforce shortages, razor-thin margins, and seismic shifts in payer relations, hospitals face unique challenges in 2023. To better understand this landscape and where it might lead us, we turned to the indomitable Imamu “Mu” Tomlinson, MD, MBA, CEO of Vituity.

As a leader in healthcare, what’s your top priority for 2023?

Narrowing the care equity gap by making care accessible to all. While virtual care is helping us reach patients in new ways, it can also create a false sense of accomplishment. Currently, one in four Medicare beneficiaries lacks broadband access at home, so overreliance on telehealth can worsen access problems.

As CEO of a patient-centric organization, I’m always looking for innovative new ways to reach patients. Often, this means extending care beyond the walls of hospitals and medical offices. For example, we might send mobile clinics to local community centers in a rural community that may not have the clinical resources of a larger city. Or for a frail elderly population that needs help coordinating their care, we might send care navigators and follow-up providers to patients’ homes. Patient-centric care also means protecting hospitals and keeping them profitable—even as many encounters and procedures shift to outpatient settings.

You’ve written extensively about the imperative to meet patients when and where they need us. In your opinion, does our healthcare system currently fulfill this promise?

While there’s a lot of talk these days about patient-centric care, we still have plenty of work to do to truly live up to this commitment. We all know this because we’re patients, family members, and healthcare leaders. We’ve seen hospitals and emergency rooms through patients’ eyes. And we know that navigating that fragmented system is still extremely challenging, even with all our resources and insider knowledge.

That said, when it comes to care delivery innovation, there’s a lot to be excited about. The pandemic rolled back outdated regulations, opening the way for new and better delivery models. And I’m cautiously optimistic that some key flexibilities supporting hospital-at-home and virtual care expansion will survive.

One of your great passions is building a team culture of empowerment, which you call “Culture of Brilliance.” Can you tell us more about that?

As a basketball fan, I’ve always been fascinated by what makes the team great. Some common strengths I’ve noticed include shared passion, valuing team over individual accomplishments, and willingness to support the careers and successes of others. Of course, these are all traits that also uplift healthcare teams.

Vituity’s Culture of Brilliance initiative flowed from these observations. We challenge our clinicians and employees to embody seven simple principles shared by the greatest teams of all time. Brilliance keeps us focused on what truly matters—patients, colleagues, and clients—all while finding joy and meaning in our work.

What is your vision for where healthcare will be in five years?

The industry will be less fragmented and care more integrated across the patient journey, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that no patient falls through the cracks. No patient should be discharged from the hospital, then wait eight weeks for a follow-up. No family member should be spinning in confusion about a loved one’s care plan with nowhere to turn. And no person should delay care because of work, childcare, internet connectivity, or transportation issues. Not on my watch.

At Vituity, we’re working hard to redesign care delivery around patient needs and preferences. We connect every step of the healthcare journey, from mobile clinics to home care services to AI-assisted patient navigation. I look forward to a future where our patients never have to chase down care. Instead, care will go to them and walk them through step by step.

About Imamu Tomlinson, MD, MBA

Imamu “Mu” Tomlinson, MD, MBA, is the Chief Executive Officer of Vituity and President of the Vituity Cares Foundation.

Dr. Tomlinson is a passionate advocate for healthcare justice and welcomes opportunities that raise awareness about healthcare inequities and inspire executives, clinicians, and the public to take action. He is a leading influencer in a paradigm shift that extends care beyond the hospital walls and into the communities that need it most.

Read more about Dr. Tomlinson here.

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