On November 11, the Nashville Health Care Council hosted a member discussion with Dee Anna Smith, CEO of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare. This virtual event was the latest installment of the Council’s “Health Care Brass Tacks” series, which invites Council board members and C-suite health care leaders to discuss their perspectives on the coronavirus pandemic and its overall impact on the health care industry. Smith spoke with Council President Hayley Hovious about leadership and cultural shifts in the era of COVID-19, as well as her commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
Serving as CEO since 2006, Smith has overseen the organization as it has advanced significant clinical research and delivered world-class care to patients across the U.S. and UK. As the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, Sarah Cannon leverages the power of scale to bring innovative cancer treatments to people facing cancer.
“Sarah Cannon sees more than 120,000 newly-diagnosed patients each year across its network. As a part of HCA Healthcare, we have a tremendous opportunity, not only to make strides in cancer, but also in cardiovascular, stroke, orthopedics, and of course, COVID-19 treatments,” said Smith. “HCA Healthcare and Sarah Cannon are honored to leverage data from the expansive enterprise and use it to advance care through clinical research.”
Smith pointed out that the health care industry has historically been challenged with adopting new technology, but the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many of these innovations, including telehealth adoption, and these practices are here to stay.
“It forced us to get comfortable with new systems for remote patient monitoring and virtual visits. I think that is one positive to come out of this pandemic,” said Smith. “Being able to have video chats with patients when needed, being able to see and hear them, makes all the difference in making each patient interaction positive and productive while ensuring their safety.”
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has seen greater focus from the business community in 2020, as the nation grapples with social justice issues and Smith has implemented several strategies at her company to address these concerns.
“Health care services and research need an inclusive, 360-view in order to solve important problems, and we only get there if we move toward a more diverse, equitable, inclusive workforce,” said Smith. “In the past several years, we’ve all been pushed to think differently. The most important thing for me to do is to listen. I have sessions with our company’s diversity networks twice a week. By seeking to understand others’ experiences, we can find ways to support one another.”