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July 3, 2018

Intermountain wants to 'share' its virtual hospital, according to its CEO

Daily Briefing

    Marc Harrison, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, recently sat down with HealthLeaders Media's Philip Betbeze to discuss how he's leading Intermountain to "build a model system in terms of driving value."

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    Before becoming CEO of Intermountain, Harrison served as the CEO of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. Harrison left that role nearly a year before former Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove announced his retirement—and tapped Harrison's successor at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Tomislav "Tom" Mihaljevic, to serve as Cleveland Clinic's CEO. But, according to Betbeze, Harrison has "no regrets" about his decision to lead Intermountain.

    Harrison, who took over as Intermountain's CEO in May 2016, said, "The aspect of leadership that involves service to the community is something I've always loved," and is a key focus of Intermountain. 

    "I love the population health and value orientation that Intermountain has," Harrison said.

    "I don't wish I was anywhere else," Harrison said, "I'm where I want to be."

    Taking Intermountain into the future

    Harrison said he'd like to build upon the success of his predecessor, Charles Sorenson, who turned Intermountain into the integrated health system it is today, while also expanding the health systems reach in new ways.

    For instance, Harrison said he'd like to expand Intermountain's virtual and "distance health" capabilities. He said, "Our digital and distance health is now in five or six western states in hospitals we don't own, and they achieve outstanding results in standardizing clinical care and keeping people in their home area."

    "The health system of the future needs to deliver care where, when, and how people want it and at the highest-possible quality and lowest-possible cost," Harrison said. He added, "Our target is to be the first consumer-centric, digitally enabled consumer health system." 

    Harrison said, "We have about a hundred clinical services we deliver virtually at this point, and have formalized them into a virtual hospital that we'll share with others and to some extent forgo some revenue." A key benefit would be reducing transports, Harrison said. "Extracting patients from [rural] hospitals is the right thing to do if you have no other option, but if there are ways to keep them in place, that's wonderful because they can stay strong for their communities."

    He said, "I'm fascinated by whether we can systematically support rural hospitals and have these hospitals remain financially viable."

    Harrison said intellectual property offers another growth opportunity. For instance, he said Intermountain has "spun off a company called Navican, a precision cancer company," that helps "patients with advanced cancer to have their tumors sequenced, ID'd, and have a global virtual tumor board determine whether to use targeted biologics or other therapies." Going forward, he said Intermountain is "looking at some novel [joint ventures] with physicians in our region."

    Overall, Harrison said, "I'd like to see us deliver the highest-quality care in the United States at the lowest per-capita cost. I want people to feel like they can have some control over their health and well-being .... If we can do that, I'll be the happiest guy around" (Betbeze, HealthLeaders Media, 6/8).

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