Healthcare needs more Swifties, Dr. Pronovost says

Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD, the chief quality and clinical transformation officer at Cleveland-based University Hospitals, told Becker's "healthcare should sit up and take notice" of Taylor Swift's influence.

Question: In 2023, what was a pebble in your shoe in your work, and how are you trying to shake it out throughout 2024? 

PP: The "pebble in the shoe" for all of us who work in healthcare, myself included, is the idea that we have to be coldly clinical to be effective. It's a persistent misconception that we can't seem to shake and which impedes our progress. Nothing could be further from the truth. At our institution, we believe the secret of great care is love, defined as the energy that uplifts and connects us all, and we're designing our transformation efforts around it. This may seem like "soft" stuff, but in fact, it's the essential stuff. The results are worth noting. By building our care model around love, for example, we've reduced annual Medicare costs by 33%, saving the Medicare program more than $100 million over four years.

Selling the concept of love to empirically-based clinical folks isn't always easy, but as more results come in, the facts are hard to deny. We'll continue making the case in 2024. We're helped, I believe, by a seemingly unlikely source and the immense cultural moment she's creating for the country — Time Magazine's Person of the Year, Taylor Swift. In everything that's been written about her, one fact is clear: she has a profound belief in people — call it love. Her songs are about hope, suffering and personal triumph, and her concerts are this beautiful way of making people belong. The impact is profound, both in interpersonal connections and economic impact. We in healthcare should sit up and take notice and believe in the power of love with even greater conviction. It's a power for good within and between every one of us that can be harnessed to much greater effect. That's the work for 2024. Perhaps we in healthcare need to be Swifties.

Editor's note: Dr. Pronovost's answer was lightly edited for grammar and clarity.

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