Episode #46: Big Problems & Big Solutions in American Healthcare with Robert Pearl MD

Our guest this week – Robert Pearl, MD – has nearly 2 decades of experience leading two of the nation’s largest medical groups.

As CEO of The Permanente Medical Group and the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group of Kaiser Permanente (KP), he was responsible for the healthcare of over 5 million members.  He led numerous initiatives with exceptional performance in quality outcomes, patient safety, cost savings and consumer experience. He and his colleagues at KP have set the bar for what value-based healthcare could look like and the outcomes that can be achieved. It’s been said by many experts and authorities that the future of American healthcare should look a lot like Kaiser Permanente.

Since leaving his position in 2017, Dr. Pearl has written a book entitled, ‘MisTreated: Why we think we’re getting good healthcare – and why we’re usually wrong’.  He’s also been travelling the globe, sharing the wisdom gleaned over decades of first-hand experience as a practicing surgeon and as a healthcare executive.  He currently teaches healthcare strategy and policy at Stanford Graduate School of Business and was recently named one of Modern Healthcare’s 50 most influential physician leaders.  

Dr. Pearl is gifted in taking complicated healthcare topics and rendering them in ways that are easy to understand.  His point is that if we just execute on what we already know works, we’d be in a completely different, and better place in healthcare delivery. His mantra is one echoed by numerous award-winning coaches – ‘stick to the basics’.

In this interview we’ll discuss:

  • The personal family experience that led Dr. Pearl to write his book, ‘Mistreated’.
  • The quality, safety & cost issues that adversely impact millions of individuals each year.  The numbers are staggering, but it’s the personal experiences we share that really tell the story.
  • A number of simple, effective strategies he and his colleagues deployed at Kaiser Permanente that have achieved remarkable outcomes in quality, safety, cost and patient experience.
  • The 4 Pillars upon which to build a superior healthcare system.   You won’t want to miss these!
  • Dr. Pearl’s predictions of which stakeholder in our country will be the major force for change in the next 3 – 5 years. You might be surprised by what you hear…

What I admire about Dr. Pearl – in addition to his acumen – is his passion.  He is at a point in his career where others might take a well-deserved rest. But he is driven by a deep sense of mission and purpose.  His enthusiasm and energy are palpable and contagious. What I also admire about Dr. Pearl is his practical, no-hype, data-driven approach to identifying and implementing evidence-based solutions.  If you have any doubt that healthcare can and will change for the better, I urge you to listen to this podcast.  Regardless of what you think today, by the end of the podcast, I believe you’ll be convinced that positive change in healthcare is coming, and coming soon.