Tampa General chief talks internal design, modernized health care

"How can the American health care industry do better at providing high-quality, more accessible care while keeping costs down ..."

Florida Politics sat down with John Couris, CEO and president of Tampa General Hospital, to discuss the modernization of health care.

Q: The world today is facing a multitude of external forces — global unrest, supply chain disruptions and food shortages — that impact how industries and businesses operate. How is Tampa General responding to the crises that face the health care industry?

A: The macro-environment that all health care leaders face today can feel overpowering: staggering fatigue and burnout among clinicians, a dramatic rise in temporary staff costs due to nursing and other health professional shortages, supply chain issues and inflation, all fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened consumer expectations.

I believe we’re at an intersection point, where internal design can help my organization — and, if adopted more broadly, our industry — navigate these rough seas and chart a course for a better future.

Q: What led you to focus on internal design as a solution? What role does it play at Tampa General Hospital in enhancing the future of health care and access?

A: I was at SXSW in Austin, Texas, earlier this year. I got to hear from innovators like Katrina Alcorn, general manager of design at IBM, and Sandy Fershee, now a design and innovation executive at Tonal and formerly a design leader at Ford. They discussed how implementing internal design teams dedicated to bridging the creative (or in our industry’s case, strategy) side of the business with the operational side has allowed them to pivot in a post-pandemic era, drive innovation and technological advances, and achieve organizational objectives.

It was like a light bulb turned on inside me. It illuminated the potential answer to a question that I, and most other hospital leaders, have struggled with for decades: How can the American health care industry do better at providing high-quality, more accessible care while keeping costs down for the consumer, the payer and the provider?

Q: What does internal design mean at Tampa General Hospital?

A: Like most other health care organizations, we operated in two broad silos. Our strategy side — functions such as marketing, business development, community relations and analytics — focused on driving consumers to our health system and meeting community needs. Our operations side — acute-care inpatient and outpatient services, emergency care and physician services — focused on care delivery.

This year, we launched an internal design team focused on building our future and serving as a constant bridge between our strategy and operations systemwide.

In our revised organizational structure, the internal design sits directly at the center, encompassing areas such as care coordination planning, our growing hospital-at-home program, and our new ambulatory-care models. These are areas that were once under either the operations or strategy side but will now have a direct focus. The internal design team supporting these areas includes leadership staff, industrial engineers, project managers, data analysts and innovation specialists.

Q: How do you think this shift will impact the medical center’s future?

A: Drawing on expertise from both the strategy and operations areas, the internal design team focuses on the big questions that will determine our future: How will we provide patients with the same level of customer experience they encounter at a Starbucks or with Amazon? What innovations, technology and partnerships must we lean into now to improve care delivery tomorrow?

Q: What does this type of modernization mean for consumers of health care?

A: This is just the latest step in our effort to become the safest and most innovative academic health care system in Florida. As we continue to implement internal design across Tampa General Hospital, patients will have greater access to health care, better quality care and greater outcomes. It’s a win-win-win.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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