Kaiser Permanente CEO on the organization’s healthcare “moonshot”

At the StartUp Health festival in San Francisco Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson spoke about the role innovation is playing in the company’s big strategic goals around preventive health.

At the StartUp Health festival in San Francisco Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson


 Post a comment / Jan 7, 2019 at 5:27 PM

The main takeaway from Kaiser Permanente chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson’s appearance at the StartUp Health Festival in San Francisco is that patients should be demanding more from their healthcare provider – and providers should be up to the challenge of answering the call.

In a fireside chat with StartUp Health President Unity Stoakes, Tyson stressed the need for providers to take up preventive care as not only a pathway for better patient health, but as an economic and business imperative.

“We are an organization that believes that prevention is the best medicine. We want to partner with you to get and stay healthy.” Tyson said.

Playing off the theme of healthcare “moonshots,” big ideas which have truly transformative potential, Tyson said that his organization is working on quantifying how Kaiser’s practices can actually lead to longer lifetimes.

“If 75 percent of cancers are preventable, the question we’re working on is what do we need to do to go upstream and prevent (the condition),” Tyson said.

Of course, this actual transition is daunting especially with existing business relationships and profit motivation. What’s key in that path, according to Tyson is changing that financial incentive and he pointed to Kaiser as a potential validator of a new business mode focused on prevention.

“People follow the money,” Tyson said. “What you can see in our model is as you invest much more upstream you create much more economic efficiency across a person’s life.”

Part of this embrace of prevention as a key driver of better health outcomes comes with an increasing focus on how best to drive and leverage innovative processes and products.

According to Tyson, one way to do that is to look at the scope of healthcare globally and share learning from other countries and communities’ approaches to their own healthcare problems.

For Kaiser, a major under tapped resource remains the managed care organization’s roughly 200,000 employees, many of whom are at the front line of delivering care to patients.

In an effort to cut through the bureaucratic process that can hamstring innovation at a large company like Kaiser, Tyson and his team created a program called Challenge Possible soliciting solutions from employees to big problems like mental health, community health and personal health. The challenge yielded nearly 2,900 responses.

“Just coming up with an idea and throwing it over the fence is not a good use of time,” Tyson said. “My commitment was that I’ll figure out how to fund it and make it really big.”