UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School


Great expectations: The need for innovation in healthcare


Changes in expectations are happening in health care, from the outcome to the overall experience of the patient, said Tony Gorski (MBA ’02), CEO of Safer Healthcare, at the third annual UNC Kenan-Flagler Healthcare Conference Nov. 15.  

Concern with patient satisfaction was not an issue in healthcare until a few years ago, he said during the panel on “Delivering Healthcare Innovation to the Patient.”  

Under the Affordable Care Act, patients will take a survey when they leave hospitals and, depending on the results, money might or might not go back to hospitals.

“Healthcare systems are getting graded on something they used to never get graded on,” Gorski said. “And that’s transformed what our company does: trying to help people within that niche.”

This redefining of healthcare is difficult because companies don’t know what is of value to patients, said Susan Jackson, director of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. “That idea that value is relative to every single patient’s experience is a pretty tough nut to crack.”

The panelists discussed what technologies excited them most in terms of delivering healthcare innovation to the patients.

“It’s not so much about the technologies as it is more of a willingness of our customers to begin to invest more in the engagement of patients utilizing technologies,” said Ben Davis, vice president of Quintiles. “I think there’s been a real reluctance over the course of the evolution of clinical research to engage in new technology.”

Ten years ago there was almost an overnight shift in how firms conducted clinical research, moving from capturing data on paper to doing it electronically, Davis said. Customers – not researchers – made that decision because they didn’t want to wait as long for the data, he said. When customers see that firms do a good job of implementing the best technology platforms, he is encouraged. 

The MBA Healthcare Club at UNC Kenan-Flagler organized the conference. Students, alumni, academia and industry leaders explored such trends as patients controlling more of their care, healthcare IT, delivering innovation to the patient, healthcare marketing and startups within healthcare. 

GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Humana, Becton Dickinson, Quintiles, Eli Lilly, Deloitte and Ernst & Young sponsored the event.