Rakesh M. Suri, MD, DPhil, serves as Chief Executive Officer at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. 

On April 9th, Dr. Suri will give a presentation on “Taking the Cleveland Clinic Model of Care Abroad – Lessons from Abu Dhabi” at Becker’s Hospital Review 11th Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker’s is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place on April 6-9, 2020 in Chicago.

To learn more about the conference and Dr. Suri’s session, click here.

Question: What, from your perspective, is the biggest challenge about the future of work for hospitals, and what can they do about it? (i.e. automation, desire for more flexibility, clinician shortages, etc.)

Rakesh M. Suri:The fundamental challenges plaguing health care systems have remained relatively unchanged for the past decade. Moreover, they exist globally from California to Ohio to London and to Abu Dhabi.

Specifically, these challenges are:

1 – Difficulties in access to high quality, safe and innovative care
2 – Coordination of care within the healthcare system and in navigating complex systems, including tertiary care, and quaternary care
3 – The experience of both patients in navigating the system and caregivers in delivering the complexity of care expected in contemporary medicine.

At Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (as well as at Cleveland Clinic Foundation), we relentlessly focus on understanding the causes of challenges in these areas, collaborate on identifying opportunities for improvement and innovating rapidly to make progress in each area.

Q: How can hospitals reconcile the need to maintain inpatient volumes with the mission to keep people healthier and out of the hospital?

RS: At both Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, we assess healthcare as a continuous spectrum from childhood to the end of life.

To this end, we put into place systems that keep people healthier for longer, facilitate early diagnoses, focus on healthcare maintenance, and deliver rapid referral to the correct provider at the right time for an intervention.

When patients are in hospital, we strive to treat them with the simplest, least invasive, and lowest cost approach, ensuring that they recover as quickly as possible and return to their lives, families, and communities rapidly.

A patient’s healthcare journey continues after a complex procedure; we continue to maintain a personal relationship and monitor their health electronically through innovative biologic surveillance systems. Through this approach, we prevent recurrences of illness as well as an escalation of healthcare costs.

Keeping patients healthier for longer, in their homes and in their communities, is something which we think a great deal about.

Q: What’s one lesson you learned early in your career that has helped you lead in healthcare?

RS: Early in my career as a heart surgeon, I learned that “always saying yes” to patients who requested my care was key in building a busy practice. When performing surgery great precision in the operating room and thereafter, taking care of patients in the ICU and on the floor with meticulous attention to detail improved outcomes and fostered patient satisfaction. Treating each patient like they were the only patient I was going to see that day was far more important that the number of patients seen or operated upon.

During this time, I learned that as patient outcomes improved, so did patients’ trust in providers, in healthcare teams, and in organizations.

Two key lessons that have resonated throughout my education and career are relentless focus on attention to detail and the need for personal accountability – I have taken these lessons to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi in my own practice as a cardiac surgeon and in my role as CEO of this incredible part of our Global Enterprise.

Q: Where do you go for inspiration and fresh ideas?

RS: The UAE is an incredibly inspiring place to live and work. For a country that’s less than 50 years old, it’s hyper-developed and emits an unmatched appetite for innovation, education, culture, technology, and advancement. I see this appetite for global leadership exemplified in places like New York University Abu Dhabi and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. I am also inspired by the UAE’s focus on artificial intelligence. The country’s commitment to technology and problem-solving encourages all of us at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to play a role in defining the future of global healthcare.

I also find inspiration in understanding breakthroughs within other fields – technology, finance, fitness, nutrition, natural therapies, and mindfulness for instance. Understanding solutions to problems outside of medicine and leveraging these ideas to address our current challenges is key in conquering the most vexing problems in healthcare.

Where do you go for inspiration and fresh ideas? Beckers, of course! In all seriousness, the conference speakers are the best in the industry and the sessions are relevant to leaders in hospitals both large and small. And I don’t have to look any further than my inbox daily for the most recent healthcare news and best practices.

What do you see as the most exciting opportunity in healthcare right now? The most exciting opportunity in healthcare today is the move to value-driven care with the patient at the center focusing on wellness and prevention instead of treating signs and symptoms with volume-driven sick visits and hospitalizations. Accountable care, the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) and value-based payment programs are driving providers from volume to value-based care with incentives to reward both the physician and the patient!

Healthcare has had calls for disruption, innovation and transformation for years now. Do you feel we are seeing that change? Why or why not? Yes, hospitals that are driving change and transformation are receiving high marks in quality and patient-satisfaction. They are investing in technology to coordinate care and making access easier for their patients. At the same time, they are educating and preparing their workforce to be responsive to innovative change. The age of volume-driven fee-for-service medicine is gradually giving way to value-based care. Hospitals must transform to become organizations that reward value instead of volume and develop delivery methods that use evidence-based practices, procedures and technologies to attain optimal outcomes and achieve greater efficiencies. Many primary care providers have heard the call for value and are joining ACO’s and working to meet this demand. Sadly hospitals that haven’t transformed to ensure the highest quality patient-centered care and the most competitive prices are being bypassed by the primary care physicians, the patients and the payers. “


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