Digital Health and Behavior Change with Roy Rosin

In this episode of Creating a New Healthcare, Dr. Zeev Neuwirth interviews Roy Rosin, the Chief Innovation Officer at Penn Medicine – the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.  Roy distills the “essence” of his two decades of success in customer behavior change & reveals some of the most critical ingredients. He has spent the past 5 years at PennMed – initiating over one hundred new healthcare delivery projects.  Prior to entering healthcare, Roy spent 18 years at Intuit (Quicken & TurboTax), where he was an accomplished executive and then Intuit’s first Innovation Officer. Intuit has been widely recognized for its application of innovation to enhance business outcomes, and Roy was clearly instrumental in that.

Roy brings to healthcare a profound acumen in digital technology, human-centered design & super-rapid cycle innovation – which, in and of itself, would have been an interesting topic of discussion.  But in this interview, Roy focuses the conversation on what he believes matters most to achieving positive healthcare outcomes – patient engagement & activation.   The projects he and his PennMed colleagues have deployed are fascinating – using the techniques of behavioral economics to drive behavior change.  And the outcomes are compelling.  Roy discusses how PennMed is making improvements in medication adherence, blood pressure control, surgical recovery, hospital follow-ups, cost effective prescribing, readmission rates and ED visit rates.  He illustrates the profound impact and leverage that behavior change and patient engagement can have in terms of cost savings as well as life savings.

One surprise that emerges in the dialogue is the realization that high impact does not necessarily mean high tech.  Some of the amazing results achieved at PennMed come about through surprisingly low tech solutions.  The use of texting, for example; or just creating default settings in the electronic medical record that drives tens of millions of dollars of savings via the use of generic medications.  One pearl that Roy drops toward the end of the interview is an innovation heuristic he lives by – “Love the problem, not the solution”.  He shares stories of how he and his teams have discovered that the stated problem is often not the actual one – and that landing too quickly on a proposed solution often short changes the desired outcome.  Roy also introduces us to a new center at PennMed called the ‘Nudge Unit’ – a unique division designed to directly apply behavioral economics onto healthcare delivery.  

It’s abundantly clear throughout the interview that Roy is a humble leader, innovator and mentor.  He repeatedly mentions his colleagues and predecessors by name – and credits them for the results and outcomes achieved.  It’s also clear that Roy & his colleagues at PennMed are mission-driven and passionate about creating meaningful results.   Roy’s is a refreshing and engaging perspective.  If you have an interest in understanding and improving patient engagement/behavior change, you’ll want to listen to this dialogue – and probably more than once!