By Tim Hunt
Striving for innovation at Sutter HealthUploaded: Dec 20, 2018
With health care costs continuing to increase and Obamacare facing an uncertain future, what’s clear is that health care providers need to continue to evolve and improve the way they collaborate and deliver services.
Sutter Health, one of the largest non-profit health systems in Northern California, is competing with Stanford Health-ValleyCare and the UCSF/John Muir systems to say nothing of Kaiser Permanente. Just check out Owens Drive in Pleasanton (ValleyCare and a John Muir/San Ramon Regional joint venture have facilities there) and then go across Santa Rita to Tassajara Road in Dublin and there’s Sutter plus a Stanford/ValleyCare urgent care center. Down the street, Kaiser is finishing up another medical office building and cancer treatment center. Sutter cares for more than three million people from the Oregon border to Santa Cruz with its strong Northern California footprint.
The group researching how Sutter needs to change is based in San Francisco and includes Foothill High graduate Meghan O’Brien. We enjoyed dinner with her dad, Pat O’Brien (CFO of Leisure Sports, Inc.) at the Pleasanton Men’s Club’s outing to San Francisco earlier this month and he connected me with Meghan so we could chat.
Her group is three years old and focuses on design and innovation for the Sacramento-headquartered Sutter. Meghan noted that her team felt it was critical to be located in The City because so many other innovative start-ups aimed at disrupting health care operate there.
Her team’s work is aligned with Sutter’s strategic initiatives and centers on taking a human-centered (the patient) approach to health care interactions. The goal is to improve interactions for patients. They have been examining care for pregnant women and primary care as well as care at the end of life. Their goal is to be a catalyst for innovation within the Sutter system.
With so much focus on digital records and the need to keep detailed records, it’s easy for providers to focus on the screen instead of the patient’s face. Possible solutions include remote notetakers to enter the digital record, voice-activated recorders or Google glasses.
To study how a variety of providers serve patients, the team has visited several sites ranging from rural operations to AXIS Community Health in Pleasanton to see how a publicly funded provider works with its low-income clientele. The visits included to a concierge model office as well as high-tech and high-touch environments. With AXIS, it was notable how the organization had created partnerships with other organizations providing resources, she said.
It’s cutting edge work and a surprising field to find an accounting and business major working in as a team member. After graduating from the University of San Diego, Meghan worked in accounting and then had the opportunity to move to Sutter in a financial analyst slot. She then moved to her current team and just finished up a MBA with an emphasis on health care.