WHCC20 | Interviews

Eliza Pippa Shulman, DO
Medical Director, Center for Healthcare Innovation
Atrius Health

What is the top challenge or obstacle facing health care today?
A top challenge is the huge focus on health coverage without addressing care delivery reform. Every political conversation is about how we pay for health care, not how health care is delivered. We have to address how we can provide the best quality care at the lowest cost – for everyone. Selecting the most appropriate place to deliver that care must be part of those considerations.

How are you preparing your organization for an uncertain future?

At Atrius Health, we are moving care closer to our patients, including hospital at home for acute needs, home visits for urgent needs, and the use of telehealth to make care more convenient. We are restructuring how we deliver care outside the four walls of our system.

One example is our hospital at home program, called Medically Home. This approach allows acute and recovery care to take place in a setting that is convenient and comfortable for patients and their families. While some conditions will always need to be treated in a hospital setting, many patients with chronic conditions that have worsened can be treated at home. Costs in the home are considerably less than inpatient facilities, and patients feel that they have more autonomy in their lives when treated in their homes.

With a presence in the home, we can also spot situations in this environment that may be contributing to patients’ conditions that aren’t obvious when the patient is in a hospital. We can see if the clinical treatment required may be burdensome and prevent barriers to compliance. Seeing patients in the home helps in making long-lasting, positive changes in their lives and health.

What is the most promising development in patient care that you have come across, and why?
We are recognizing the value of technology in its integration into care delivery. Now that the barriers to entry are lower, we can use tools such as remote monitoring to allow for ongoing care and oversight into the patient’s life outside of brick and mortar health care facilities. We can now embed this technology into different settings to create a seamless, safe, comfortable experience for patients that allows us to catch issues earlier.

Who was the mentor who helped you the most to get to where you are today?
Paul B. Batalden, MD, who is now Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). His best piece of advice for me: Learn how to say “No” more frequently. He told me to always make sure I’m clear why I’m saying “Yes” to something, and that I am able to say “Yes” with conviction and passion. He also taught me how to transform a system by viewing it through the eyes of a single patient and then elevating that perspective to the population level.

What’s one life hack that you have to make your day-to-day life more productive?
Schedule one meeting each day that you can take while walking. Your ideas are more creative and conversations are more free-flowing when you’re moving.

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