HCA CEO to Big Tech: You Can’t Disrupt Healthcare Like You’ve Disrupted Other Industries

Big Tech companies like Amazon, Google and IBM can’t disrupt healthcare with the same approach they have used to infiltrate other industries, according to Sam Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare.

He shared this sentiment on Sunday during a main stage discussion with General Catalyst CEO Hemant Taneja at HLTH 2022 in Las Vegas.

“To really understand the healthcare system, you have to get into the healthcare system in a way that’s a little bit different than maybe how tech has attached itself or disrupted other industries,” Hazen said. “They’ve been able to do it from afar, so to speak. I don’t think — at least for the component of the industry that we’re in — that you can do it from afar. You have to embed yourself in the interactions that take place between people and processes, and then start to think about how technology can really impact that.”

One of the best ways that technology companies can integrate themselves into the country’s healthcare delivery system is by partnering with health systems for pilot programs, Hazen declared.

He claimed that HCA was a big proponent of pilot programs that test new technology, as such programs can often lead to more expansive efforts if they generate meaningful results.

“If we can prove something in Dallas-Fort Worth, where we have a really large system, or prove something in Miami and then determine it’s scalable, then we start to think about it that way,” Hazen said. “But just coming in from the outside and attaching to our organization doesn’t work.”

For mammoth health systems like HCA (which employs almost 300,000 people), pilot programs have to be regionalized, according to Hazen. He said there are “too many people that have too many different opinions” across his organization for it to be able to quickly establish technology pilot programs across the enterprise.

This speed of adoption is important. In order for health systems to be successful amid ongoing financial pressures, Hazen argued they need to adopt new technology in an agile manner. They should do this instead of staying “woefully behind” other industries, such as banking and retail, which have been able to modernize much faster, he said.

Hazen acknowledged that technology can’t solve all of healthcare’s problems. But he said it can make an impactful difference for some key issues — the industry’s workforce crisis being chief among them.

“I think [technology] can really advance what we need to do with workforce,” Hazen declared. “And fundamentally, what we’re trying to do with workforce is extend the reach of the resources that we have — extend the reach of our physicians and how they interact with their patients, extend the reach of our nurses and how they care for our patients, and really extend the ability of our management teams organizationally to manage our business more efficiently with better outcomes.”

Photo: HLTH