Last Friday, the Nashville Health Care Council hosted Toby Cosgrove, M.D., executive adviser to Google Cloud’s Health Care and Life Sciences Team, and executive adviser and former president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic, for a lively discussion that covered a wide range of topics, from innovation and technology to patient experience and leadership in health care. With Bruce Greenstein, executive vice president of LHC Group as moderator, more than 200 Council members heard Cosgrove’s perspective on telehealth, data’s impact on the future of care and the recent influx of tech companies entering the industry.
Photo credit: (c) 2019, Al Wagner.
Cosgrove joined Cleveland Clinic in 1975 and rose to the rank of president and CEO in 2004. During his tenure as president and CEO, he was instrumental in leading the organization to new levels of achievement and efficiency, including a ranking as the No. 2 hospital in the country (U.S. News). During his presentation, Cosgrove challenged the audience to think differently about how leaders are chosen and developed in health care.
“When I became the CEO, I began to study organizations that were great examples of building leaders, and what I found was that, in health care, those who developed great technical capabilities as surgeons or physicians were the ones who got promoted, regardless of whether they were good leaders,” Cosgrove said. “At Cleveland Clinic, we developed a leadership academy modeled after organizations that fostered leadership, and we gave them more responsibility and coaching with the goal of developing great leaders across all levels of the organization.”
With an extensive background in health system management and innovation, Cosgrove says that marrying leadership and innovation can help make the health care system better for patients and physicians alike.
“My hope is that health care can be energized by technology and make the relationship between doctors and patients more accessible,” he said. “I also think that there’s going to be a big push for the health care industry to be more transparent, which will help improve quality and allow patients to make smarter, more informed decisions.”
Greenstein then shifted the conversation to the current notion of tech companies entering the health care sphere as disruptors and the impact that technology could have in health care. Cosgrove offered his view that, rather than attempting to disrupt the mammoth health care industry, technology companies should focus on fixing inefficiencies in the current system, such as booking appointments or assigning payers, which will tremendously help both patients and providers.
“There are so many opportunities to change how we deliver health care to make it better for both patients and physicians,” Cosgrove said. “With the number of health systems and health care IT companies in this city, Nashville is leading the way in meaningful innovation in this industry.”
Greenstein concluded the conversation by asking Cosgrove his opinion on the emerging distrust of the technology sector among consumers and how that will impact health care. Cosgrove says that, while he understands this is a tough issue, the opportunities of having access to unidentifiable patient data outweigh the risk.
“At the end of the day, the data ultimately needs to be owned by the patient; but having access to truly unidentifiable information can be extremely valuable to society. Your information is safer in the cloud than it is in a paper file at your local doctor’s office,” Cosgrove said.
“Dr. Cosgrove has incredible insight into the intersection between health care and technology through his work both in a clinical setting and with technology giant Google,” said Hayley Hovious, president of the Nashville Health Care Council. “It’s been a valuable experience to have him give his perspective and guidance on the direction of technology in health care to some of the health care industry’s top executives.”