UCLA’s Molly Coye Seeks Innovations that Pay Off

2-19-2013 2-35-05 PM

One of the favorite quotations of Molly Coye, MD is from economist Joseph Schumpeter: “Innovation turns cash into ideas.”

Dr. Coye, chief innovation officer of the UCLA Health System, spoke to the Los Angeles Venture Capital Association on February 15. She said that one of her jobs is to use the Schumpeter quote in reverse: “We need take innovation and turn it into cash.”

Dr. Coye said one of her mandates for leading innovation at the giant UCLA Health care system, which includes four hospitals and more than 2,000 physicians, is to find innovations in hardware and software that will move the needle in reducing total costs five to 10 percent in one or more specific areas.

She said that when considering new technologies, incremental change may be preferable to disruptive change because of the difficulty in getting buy-in from physicians.

Prior to assuming the UCLA post in 2010, Dr. Coye had served as commissioner of health for the State of New Jersey and director of the California Department of Health Services. In 2000, she founded and served as CEO of the Health Technology Center (HealthTech), a non-profit research organization that became the premier forecasting institution for emerging technologies in health care.

Dr. Coye told the venture capital association that in previous years, healthcare leaders had taken a “let a hundred flowers bloom” approach towards innovative technology. In today’s environment, however, they should move to a more refined approach. “What exactly are we trying to do? How do we get there?”

She noted that she is personally interested in comparative effectiveness from the patient’s point of view, citing the work of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), founded by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Coye that whether or not a fiscal cliff situation develops, hospital leaders believe Medicare will be reducing overall rates by up to 35 percent in coming years and private insurers will be following suit. In an effort to reduce costs, the UCLA system has recently formed an ACO. The UCLA campus is moving its employees into a self-insured system and away from commercial health insurance.

Increased transparency and reference pricing is another priority for UCLA she said. She noted that 56 percent of baby boomers have less than $25,000 in assets excluding their home’s value. In coming years, when they develop a serious medical condition, they are going to face the choice of “getting a second diagnosis or going broke.”

Dr. Coye said the UCLA system is in the middle of adopting Epic, with go-live set for next month. The implementation has generated a lot of controversy, she said. “Some people have said it is a rigid enterprise with a lot of black boxes. But what choice does a large academic medical center have? Epic or Cerner. You are caught between the devil the and deep blue sea.”

This article was contributed by James Harris, president of WestsidePR.com, a healthcare technology marketing agency.

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