For those of us who’ve been longtime, close observers of the health care field, it’s nifty to watch hospital leaders take on the challenge of transforming what was once a scattered and disjointed enterprise into a true system — a system in which genuinely useful data are collected, analyzed and shared; in which evidence is turned into best practices that are universally disseminated and adopted; and in which everyone from the C-suite to clinicians to the support staff utilizes proven continuous-improvement techniques to make what they do evermore effective and efficient.

That can-do and will-do attitude was evident in a recent panel discussion that Health Forum and Siemens Healthcare organized around the theme “Innovation: Transforming Care Delivery for the Future.” The panel included hospital, physician and industry representatives. Maulik Joshi of the Health Research & Educational Trust moderated.

The conversation was wide-ranging, touching on everything from how to enhance clinical integration to how to harness the promise of IT. I invite you to read the full discussion in the June issue of Hospitals & Health Networks. For a little taste, here are a few choice quotes:

“Those who have projected the demise or the lesser importance of acute care facilities aren’t reading the tea leaves correctly … we are working on an IT system that brings every single site of care, whether rural, episodic, chronic or acute, into a unified system of communication among physicians, hospitals and outpatient care centers so that we really have what we call a system.” — Lindsay Mann, CEO, Kaweah Delta Health Care District, Visalia, Calif.

“The challenge we face is leveraging the new. We need to make purposeful decisions about how we are going to invest our energy around new innovations. We have to be careful not to overwhelm everyone. That takes some criteria: Why do we adopt certain things and not others? How much change tolerance does an organization have? That’s the key calibration issue that CEOs have to look at.” — Joseph McDonald, president and CEO, Catholic Health System, Buffalo, N.Y.

“The workflow engine is an interesting tool to drive errors out of the system and drive reminders and process of care standards into the system. I call it the dream engine, because if we can dream it, we can do it with the workflow engine. … Being able to access data in real time and have an engine watch that data are key to what’s going to happen in health care. It’s not only analytics, it’s the things that workflow engines and rule engines react to in a much more timely manner.” — Gregg Veltri, chief information officer, Charleston (W.Va.) Area Medical Center.

“Two things are going to help clinical integration. One is transparency. It becomes beneficial for everyone to show better outcomes, and the public is going to know about them. The other thing is that many hospitals and systems are purchasing physician practices. As owners, hospitals and health systems can help to guide what best practice truly is.” — Mark Gabelman, M.D., chief of cardiology, Palisades Medical Center, North Bergen, N.J.

“We have to keep learning about our processes of care and developing systems to help us learn from each defect that occurs. We need the capability to organize our data systematically so we can see patterns across the organization and develop preventive action plans. We can’t be satisfied with simply taking corrective action.” — Glenn Crotty, M.D., executive vice president and chief operating officer, Charleston (W.Va.) Area Medical Center.

John Seely Brown’s “work suggests that the never-ending series of small- and medium-sized changes moves the needle and over time results in significant change. … It’s sort of a short-cycle learning: Try, learn, try, learn, and never bet the farm on any of these things. It creates a culture that encourages innovation.” — John Glaser, CEO, Health Services, Siemens Healthcare.

Again, for context around these quotes and for more of the panelists’ insights, check out your June issue of H&HN.