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By: Kyruus on August 14th, 2019

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Keynote Spotlight: Former CEO of Cleveland Clinic Shares How to Expand the Boundaries of Healthcare

ATLAS Conference | Digital | Patient Experience | Patient Access


The Annual Thought Leadership on Access Symposium (ATLAS) is just around the corner! The sixth annual ATLAS will be held in Boston from September 23 - 24. To kick off our event, we are thrilled to host Dr. Toby Cosgrove, former President & CEO to Cleveland Clinic and current advisor to Google, Health Cloud and Life Sciences. 

Below, Dr. Cosgrove shares his insights on the current state of patient access and what the future may hold for the intersection of healthcare and technology. 

Do you think patient access has become more of a focus for CEOs within the past 5 years and what has attributed to this shift?

Yes, absolutely. Patient access has become a bigger and bigger factor. I think it gets around to patient satisfaction. Patients want to be seen when they want to be seen. I think the other thing that is contributing to it is that there are more choices now, as companies like CVS open clinics, etc. Physicians have got to be more competitive with making access more available.  

Where do you think we've made the most progress in regards to patient access from your time at Cleveland Clinic until now? 

One of the things we did at the Cleveland Clinic to improve access is we started same-day appointments. You can call up and get an appointment with a Cleveland Clinic doctor within the same day. We see about 1.3 million same-day appointments a year. The reason for this is that patients need to be seen when they need to be seen, so we work hard to make that happen. The other thing is that with the advent of telehealth you can now use your cell phone to see a doctor anywhere and anytime. You can get on a cell phone and get an opinion, so I think telehealth is going to increase health access as well. 

Where are there still areas for opportunity when it comes to patient access?

I think that telehealth is going to be an enormous improvement in patient access. If you stop and think, there are multiple things you can do. Patients never have to leave home, and physicians can see them almost anytime. It is good for physicians, and it is good for patients. In fact, we are seeing about a 30% increase year over year of our telehealth visits this year.

Why do you think that the healthcare industry overall has been slow to adopt technology & innovation?

One of the reasons that I think the healthcare industry is slower is that physicians essentially are very risk-averse in the basis of their training. In fact, it is well established that from the time of proven therapy until the time of standard care that is 13 years, and I think that is attributed to the fact that physicians are selected and trained to be risk-adverse for patients. 

On a hospital or administrative side, in IT the industry has been very slow to progress. I think part of the reason for that is the very tight budgets that hospitals have. In the expense of IT, hospitals generally run about 20% on the red. Margins are about 2-3% for hospitals across the country. That has also been an impediment to having bigger options of technology. 

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for the future of the healthcare industry?

Well frankly, I think there are two major opportunities. One is the use of Artificial Intelligence. I think with the huge amount of data that is being created, we can begin to analyze using artificial intelligence and machine learning that will give us new insights, more efficient care, and higher quality care. I think the second is telemedicine, which is going to bring care to people in remote locations and make it more convenient for people to get their care in the home. 

Join us at ATLAS this September 23-24 in Boston to hear more of Dr. Cosgrove’s insights on the boundaries of healthcare and countless other perspectives from health system executives around the country.

Register to reserve your spot today!