October 8, 2020 Episode 023

CommonSpirit’s Lloyd Dean and Rich Roth on Solving Inequities through Innovation

Lloyd Dean, CommonSpirit’s CEO, and Rich Roth, SVP, Chief Strategic Innovation Officer, reflect on the health system’s mission of advocating for the vulnerable and expanding access to care for all amid a fast-changing social and healthcare landscape.

CommonSpirit’s Lloyd Dean and Rich Roth on Solving Inequities through Innovation

CommonSpirit Health created one of the largest health systems in the nation by merging Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives in early 2019. It now operates 137 hospitals and more than 1,000 care sites across 21 states, with revenues of nearly $29 billion.

Extending its reach into more communities across the country has enabled CommonSpirit to leverage scale as a means to advance its core mission of expanding healthcare access to all, advocating for those who are poor and vulnerable, and innovating how and where healing can happen.

If a person’s personal journey and early years are what guide them to their calling in life, as CommonSpirit CEO Lloyd Dean believes, it’s no wonder why he and SVP and Chief Strategic and Innovation Officer, Rich Roth, are key parts of a leadership team charged with seeing this mission through.

In this episode of Healthcare is Hard, Lloyd tells his inspiring story of growing up the son of a factory worker who experienced racial inequalities firsthand and saw the impact they have on basic healthcare and life expectancy. He shares his personal journey from being the first in his community to attend a university, to becoming the CEO of one of the nation’s largest health systems and how these experiences drive purpose in this role. Rich Roth recounts his first exposure to the healthcare industry cleaning doctors’ offices where his mother worked as a receptionist, his later roles cooking and cleaning at nursing homes, and ultimately his first job out of college stuffing envelopes and answering patient questions in the billing department of a hospital.

With the foundational influence of these experiences, Lloyd and Rich talk to Keith Figlioli about their role in fulfilling CommonSpirit’s healing mission and how it has changed in the wake of COVID-19. They cover a number of topics, including:

  • COVID-19 as the great equalizer. Rich explains how certain elements of a health system like home care, pharmacy or community benefit have historically played a secondary role – part of a strategy, but not leading it – and are now starting to be central components of a system’s identity. COVID-19 has revealed the true vulnerabilities in our healthcare system and these are the things CommonSpirit is thinking deeply about to create the next chapter of healthcare delivery. As Lloyd points out, if we don’t see the inequalities now and address them in a demonstrable way, history will chronicle that as one of the greatest missed opportunities the nation has ever seen.
  • Personalizing care for individuals. The U.S. health system has done a poor job personalizing primary care to meet individual needs, according to Rich. For example, behavioral health might be the primary need for some people while food or housing is the biggest concern for others. And different groups of people – women, seniors, Latinx, and many more – need more services specific to them too. The next evolution of care must move away from the “one stop shop” and will require services that understand and better serve each person individually.
  • Being part of a community, not just “in” a community. Lloyd shares his prediction that care delivery from health systems, hospitals, clinics and other providers that currently occurs IN the community, will transform to be a bigger part OF the community. And providing a robust health infrastructure with broad access to care will not simply be understood as a moral imperative, but as an economic imperative as well.

To hear Lloyd, Rich and Keith talk about these topics and more, listen to this episode of Healthcare is Hard: A Podcast for Insiders.