January 18, 2019 Episode 003

Insider Susan DeVore on Reducing Waste and the Path to Alternative Payments in Healthcare

Insider Susan DeVore on Reducing Waste and the Path to Alternative Payments in Healthcare

Susan DeVore has been in and around the healthcare industry for most of her life – long before she became president and CEO of Premier Inc., a company that unites an alliance of more than 4,000 hospitals and health systems and approximately 165,000 other providers and organizations to transform healthcare.

It’s a little-known fact that Susan’s roots at Premier date back to her childhood when her father, a biomedical engineer, worked for a predecessor to the company. After working at Ernst & Young – including time as a partner and senior healthcare industry management practice leader, among other roles – she got the call to interview at Premier.

No one was aware of Susan’s company legacy at that time, but after she joined, there were longtime employees who remembered her attending the company picnic or other gatherings as a young teenager.

Susan’s lifelong focus on improving the healthcare system and her current role at Premier – driven by insight from such a vast network of care delivery organizations – combine to give her an incredibly valuable perspective for solving healthcare’s biggest challenges. Premier’s network enables it to maintain a dataset that encompasses roughly 45% of patients in the US. Those data inform Susan’s leadership and the decisions the company makes to help solve cost and quality challenges and develop a unique model of care delivery.

At the HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition in February Susan will be delivering a keynote session titled, “Healing from Within: Leading Change, Inspiring Action.” But you can hear her first on this episode of Healthcare is Hard: A Podcast for Insiders. Susan’s conversation with Keith Figlioli covers a number of pressing topics including:

  • Reducing Waste in the System – Susan talks about how there’s still 30% waste in the system and three times unwanted variation in care delivery, and how these challenges can’t be solved by insurance companies or the government. She believes the only way to tackle them is head-on, from within the system, and shares her thoughts about how data, technology, and influence within healthcare systems are all critical to driving transformation.
  • Changing the Social System – the decades-old social system that the healthcare industry is built upon is one that’s difficult to change. But it’s starting to change in experimental ways, driven by innovators and early adopters who recognize that it’s unsustainable for healthcare costs to grow at twice the rate of the economy, and who want to do something about it. Susan talks about how and why it’s easy to stay in a fee-for-service world and shares her thoughts on the main barriers to change.
  • The Path to Alternative Payments – as Susan sees it, the big thing that’s holding health systems back from adopting alternative payment models is uncertainty. If providers that haven’t adopted or are only experimenting in alternative payments think there’s a chance that fee-for-service might last longer, it’s much harder for them to make the leap. However, she talks about her view of federal regulations and how the “training wheels are coming off” to force change more quickly.
  • The Next Big Thing: Making Big Data Small – while increasing access to healthcare data is playing an important role in transforming the industry, one big challenge right now is the sheer volume of data that exists. Susan talks about how the next big thing on the horizon will be figuring out ways to make vast amounts of data more usable. She talks about how to get “small data” into the workflow so it’s available for physicians and patients to use in making informed decisions that change the care being delivered.

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