Sam Hazen

HCA’s Big Tech CEO: You can’t disrupt healthcare the way you’ve disrupted other industries

Sam Hazen

Big tech companies like Amazon, Google and IBM can’t disrupt healthcare with the same approach they’ve used to infiltrate other industries, according to Sam Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare.

He expressed this sentiment on Sunday during a main stage discussion with General Catalyst CEO Hemant Taneja at HLTH 2022 in Las Vegas.

“To really understand the health care system, you have to go into the health care system in a way that’s a little bit different than maybe how technology has attached itself or disrupted other industries,” Hazen said. “They could do it from afar, so to speak. I don’t think – at least for the component of the industry we’re in – that you can do that remotely. You have to include yourself in the interactions that take place between people and processes, and then start thinking about how technology can really affect that.”

One of the best ways technology companies can integrate themselves into the nation’s health care delivery system is by partnering with health systems for pilot programs, Hazen stated.

He claimed that HCA was a big proponent of pilot programs that test new technologies, as such programs can often lead to more extensive efforts if they generate meaningful results.

“If we can prove something in Dallas-Fort Worth, where we have a very large system, or prove something in Miami and then determine it’s scalable, then we start thinking about it that way,” Hazen said. “But just coming in from the outside and connecting to our organization doesn’t work.”

For giant health systems like HCA (which employs nearly 300,000 people), pilot programs should be regionalized, according to Hazen. He said there are “too many people who have too many different opinions” across his organization for it to quickly establish technology pilot programs across the enterprise.

This speed of adoption is important. To ensure that health systems can succeed amid ongoing financial pressures, Hazen argued that they must adopt new technology in an agile manner. They should do so instead of being “lagging woefully behind” other industries, such as banking and retail, which could modernize much more quickly, he said.

Hazen acknowledged that technology cannot solve all health care problems. But he said it could make an impactful difference to some key issues — the industry’s workforce crisis being the most important.

“I think [technology] can really advance what we need to do with workforce,” stated Hazen. “And fundamentally, what we’re trying to do with workforce is expand the reach of the resources that we have — expand the reach of our doctors and how they interact with their patients, expand the reach of our nurses and how they take care of our patients, and really expand the ability of our management teams organizationally to run our business more efficiently with better outcomes.”

Photo: HLTH

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