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Linking Strategy, Innovation, and Execution: The Perspective from a Leader at UCLA Health

August 1, 2014
by Mark Hagland
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On August 19 in Seattle UCLA Health’s Peter Kung will share with colleagues his organization’s learnings so far on the journey to clinical transformation

On Tuesday, August 19 at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront Hotel, Peter Kung, director of strategic Technologies at UCLA Health, will deliver a keynote address entitled “Linking strategy, Innovation, and execution,” as part of the Health  IT Summit in Seattle, to be held August 19-20 at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront. The Summit is sponsored by the Institute for Health Technology Transformation, or iHT2 (since December 2013, Healthcare Informatics has been in partnership with iHT2 through HCI’s parent company, the Vendome Group, LLC). For further information on the Summit, please click here.

As he prepares to speak at the Summit on August 19, Kung spoke with HCI Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland regarding the innovative work being done at UCLA Health, and his broader perspectives on innovation in healthcare right now. UCLA Health encompasses four hospitals in Los Angeles—the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA, and Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, as well as the UCLA Medical Group, and over 2,000 affiliated physicians, and a variety of area clinics. Below are excerpts from that interview.

Tell me about yourself and your role at UCLA Health?

I actually report to the COO and the Chief innovation Officer, two different people, at UCLA Health. My job involves looking at what healthcare reform is doing to the industry, and aligning UCLA Health’s growth strategies to healthcare and market reform. And I’m not just a tech geek; my expertise lies in leveraging technology and tying it to strategy and innovation. It also doesn't hurt that I have an MBA and another master’s degree in information systems. They key here is the kinds of discussions we’re having around innovation and change. Not all the changes, efforts, or initiatives, will involve technology; but in any case, I’ll be contributing where I can. So I also coordinate with the CIO’s team. Our previous CIO has recently departed, and we’re working with an interim CIO and his team.

Peter Kung

So you’re kind of a nexus or bridge person among different groups?

Yes, exactly.

What kinds of big issues are you and your colleagues at UCLA Health working on right now?

It really is all about the Triple Aim; we’re looking at access, cost, patient satisfaction, and other issues. It really is a broad band of issues we’re looking at right now.

What are the key things that are coming into consensus at UCLA Health about what needs to be done?

Well, that’s a big question to ask; within any big organization, there’s a lot of dialogue that has to take place. But, broadly speaking, we’re working on the shift from volume-based to value-based care. And there’s a lot of discussion about how we best approach this at UCLA. We’ve been doing efforts in the primary care innovation model; we have a Medicare Shared Savings Program ACO, which we started a little more than a year ago.  And we’re working on telehealth, e-referrals, an innovation global lab, etc., so, a broad spectrum of efforts, including also patient satisfaction and expanding access and timeliness around appointments. So how do we shift from volume-based to value-based care, and as that happens, what are the things that need to happen?

What are the biggest challenges facing you in those efforts?

I want to be sensitive to the operating budget and costs involved. But in a large, matrixed organization, there probably is a lot of duplication; and really, it’s about how you funnel all the opinions, all the roles, together, to figure out what’s going on. It’s not just an operations problem; another way of thinking about it—a leader said once, it may take some time for UCLA to decide what to do, but once we decide, we do move quickly. So it’s really, how do we decide how to prioritize and implement changes? Those are big questions; they’re not unique to UCLA. And then the next challenge is how you scale change across the enterprise.

What have you learned so far about how to link strategy, innovation, and execution?

Well, you always start with strategy, around value creation for our patients and communities. And where innovation plays its role, we have to ask, how do we do something new in this space? You start with strategy, and innovation must be tied to strategy. And then you use new ways of thinking, new business models, and not just technologies, to rethink things, and really work with operations and figure out how it all impacts our staff and our organization.

What will happen in the next year or two at UCLA Health?

That’s a great question. I think our efforts around patient satisfaction, access, and the creation of value in care (quality relative to cost)—I think we’ll dramatically improve those efforts. Our top leadership has been working very well together, and really cohesively responding to the changes in the industry. So in the next year, you’ll see a lot coming from UCLA, and hopefully, because of our educational mission—it really is to allow people to learn from what we’re doing, and we’re always learning from others, too. So I’m sure we’ll be sharing our lessons.

Where does IT fit into this, and where do the IT people fit into this?

They have a major role to play, and in fact, many of the strategies and innovations will rely on technology. The question will be asked, what is the value of IT? Is it just the support role, or is it really a fusion with care delivery? And whether it’s analytics or our EHR, or wherever—it will depend on where the IT folks want to fit into this. And I would encourage IT to play a role that is not just aligned with the strategy, but fused with the strategy, and constantly asking, what is the real business of IT in the healthcare setting?

What will you urge your listeners to do, when you speak in Seattle?

I will speak about the pressures on IT leaders—there are a lot of things coming at them—but also, for them to be able to help facilitate dialogue around what is possible, and to be able to say, the bandwidth involved is well worth the opportunity cost of innovation.

These and other topics will make for a lively discussion in Seattle, as Mr. Kung and others discuss key topics around population health management, data analytics, health information exchange, and other subjects. To learn more, please check out the Health IT Summit in Seattle, August 19-20,, sponsored by the Institute for Health TechnologyTransformation.



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