Imagination and Innovation: A Q&A with Kaiser Permanente’s Philip Fasano

Kaiser Permanente's Philip Fasano speaks at the 2013 Accelerating Innovation event hosted by NASA.
Kaiser Permanente’s Philip Fasano at the Accelerating Innovation event hosted by NASA.

During yesterday’s event with NASA at the Center for Total Health, Kaiser Permanente Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer Philip Fasano was part of a panel discussing the acceleration of innovation across organizational business models.  Afterward, we were able to sit down and chat briefly about how Kaiser Permanente is leveraging innovation and imagination to help transform health care – for providers as well as consumers and patients.

The NASA event began with the latest of several videos Kaiser Permanente has produced about imagining the future of care in the United States – really inspiring videos, I might add.  This most recent video is called, “Imagining Care Anywhere.” Why is that concept something you (and Kaiser Permanente) are so passionate about?

To answer that question, you don’t have to look much further than the smart phone in your pocket, your increasingly frequent online shopping experiences, social media, and the emerging technologies that afford all of us convenience and access to information in our daily lives. But for Kaiser Permanente, the concept of “anywhere” carries higher stakes. If we can enable care anywhere, we can improve care, help people stay healthier, and save costs in the health care system as a result. Kaiser Permanente is an integrated care system, not a fee-for-service system. This means that our doctors are not paid to do more tests, prescribe more treatments, or bring you into the office for a visit, unless your care requires it.

Being able to engage in these conversations to imagine together the possibilities in health care and how to progress population health is good for us, for NASA, and for earth-bound patients.

Everyone benefits when people are healthy, when we drive positive health outcomes. Many of the capabilities in the video and that we are exploring, creating and offering to our members, help our members engage in their own health, access their information and care teams seamlessly, and stay healthier. They help care teams provide high-quality care that is more convenient and effective for the patient, and less costly for the care system and the patient. Better care and lower costs is a worthwhile passion, and it’s more critical today than ever. We have a passion for transforming health care, and providing technology-enabled, high-quality care anywhere is an essential path to that transformation.

The concept of imagining care anywhere is taken to truly great heights when NASA enters the conversation. What do you hope these types of meetings — in this case, with NASA — can mean in terms of transforming or advancing care delivery in the future here on earth?

At Kaiser Permanente we are imagining the future of health care. Imagination is so vital to the creation of a vision that can drive the transformation of health care. NASA is all about imagining possibilities in space. It’s pure discovery when they embark on space station research and apply insights and data to the advancement of treatment and of medical science, particularly to mobile patients. And who is more mobile than an astronaut? It gives new meaning to our theme of Imagining Care Anywhere. Kaiser Permanente isn’t planning any space station clinics—at least not right now—but you can see how our respective paths of discovery could intersect for the benefit of patients everywhere. Being able to engage in these conversations to imagine together the possibilities in health care and how to progress population health is good for us, for NASA, and for earth-bound patients.

This is the second year KP has partnered with NASA on an event. What does collaborating and exchanging ideas with an organization outside of health care mean for our members? I’d love to hear your take on the value in stepping outside what is familiar and the innovation that can result. 

There is no one organization, group, or certainly individual, that can transform health care alone. The challenge and the opportunity before us in health care require us to imagine beyond what we know and experience within our own walls, or even our own industry, today. When we interact with other smart people and organizations with big imaginations, we can make seemingly unrelated connections that solve problems. That’s what innovation is about – thinking differently. We must glean lessons and perspectives in efficient operations, consumer engagement, program management, disruptive innovation, service, and more from companies outside of health care. Whether it’s adopting a best practice or a simple invention for a health care application, or creating completely new solutions to improve health and lower costs, our members and consumers in general have so much to gain from the perspectives and solutions that can come out of cross-sector collaboration.  Great thinking has no boundaries!

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