Q&A with Greg Poulsen, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for Intermountain Healthcare

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Q&A with Greg Poulsen, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for Intermountain Healthcare

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | August 09, 2016
From the August 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine


HCB News: What differentiates Intermountain from other health care systems?
GP:
We focus on evidence-based value improvement. Being able to understand cost and care analytically has allowed us to provide a clear-eyed look and understand before and after cost reductions and quality improvements.

HCB News: Have there been any big surprises uncovered with that analytical approach?

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GP:
Maybe the biggest, and the one that continues to appear, is that whenever we take a hard look, we find we’re not as good as we think we are. It opens discussions on how we can do better.

HCB News: When those types of conversations occur, are there challenges or questions from departments?
GP:
Initially, we did get a lot of questions. We, the analysts, were lucky enough or smart enough to approach by asking, “Does this look right? How could we make it better?” It was an education, not an accusation. Everyone wants to do things better. It’s exceedingly rare for people not to care about quality.

HCB News: What kind of savings did those improvements deliver?
GP:
Over the years, hundreds of millions of dollars. Once something is in place, though, you no longer have a baseline. We have had something like 110 individual projects.
Some have provided something like $5 million in savings while others provided little in savings, but increased the quality of care. When we improve a process, there’s an added benefit. In 1983, we brought up our own insurance plan. SelectHealth is now the largest insurer in the state of Utah. So when we see improvements in doing something a certain way, there’s an added benefit.

HCB News: How has health care reform impacted your facilities?
GP:
Part of health care reform we like is the focus on accountable care, and focusing on the whole person, not just on treatment. It creates the best position for people to be healthy and to keep costs down.

HCB News: Do you think the upcoming presidential election will impact health care?
GP:
No doubt. The differences between the candidates are profound and the changes could be fairly dramatic.

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