WisBusiness: Dean CEO says health care changes are coming
By Brian E. Clark
MADISON – For a doctor, Craig Samitt has a rather bleak view of health care in the United States.
“The industry is broken… and needs to be transformed,” said Samitt, who has been CEO of the 500-physician Dean Health System for nearly 18 months. His aim is to shake up the delivery of medicine while improving service, holding down costs and improving efficiency and quality.
Samitt, who spoke Tuesday at a luncheon sponsored by WisBusiness.com, Madison Magazine and the Madison Club, said many doctors do not like it when he criticizes their reluctance to embrace technology or points out the high rate of health care errors.
“Why is our defect rate so much greater than any other industry?” asked Samitt, who said the health care is the only service business that doesn’t act like one.
But it’s more than just a service problem, he continued.
“If we were an airline, two jets would crash every day at O’Hare, 12,000 pieces of mail would be lost per hour in the postal service and 35,000 bank checks would be drawn from the wrong person’s account ,” he said.
“And if we had the medical defect rate overall in just obstetrics an gynecology, 20 babies a day would be given to the wrong parents to take home,” he said.
Samitt said he came to Dean, which has a $1 billion budget and a total of 3,000 employees, to create the best health care company possible and said he is using business models and metrics to make changes and improvements in all aspects of service.
Samitt said Dean's integrated system is a superior model and one that can be retooled over time. In the year-and-one-half, he said he has already made fundamental changes to improve care.
And he said he looks forward to competing with the other major medical systems in Madison, including UW-Health, Meriter and Group Health.
In some ways, he said, health care is a "cottage industry that is neglectful and ignorant of best practices.
"But I believe Madison can be a model... and we don't need mandates or legislation to be a whole lot better," he said.
"I say 'bring it on,'" said Samitt, who holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. "I want us to be the best of the group and a thoughtful leader."
WisBusiness: Listen to audio of the speech