Regina E. Herzlinger is the Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration Chair at the Harvard Business School. She was the first woman to be tenured and chaired at Harvard Business School and the first to serve on a number of corporate boards. She is widely recognized for her innovative research in health care, including her early predictions of the unraveling of managed care and the rise of consumer-driven health care and health care focused factories, two terms that she coined.
Her book, Who Killed Health Care? (NY: McGraw-Hill, 2007), was selected by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as one of the ten books that changed the debate in 2008.
Her book, Consumer-Driven Health Care: Implications for Providers, Payers, and Policymakers (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass 2004) received the 2004 American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year award for History and Public Policy.
She has won the Consumers’ for Health Care Choices Pioneer in Health Economics award, the American College of Heatlhcare Executives’ Hamilton Book of the Year award twice, the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s Board f Directors award, and Management College of Physician Executive. Modern Healthcare’s readers regularly selected her as among the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare” and Managed Healthcare named her one of health care’s top ten thinkers. In recognition of her work in nonprofit accounting and control, she was named the first Chartered Institute of Management Accountants Visiting Professor at the University of Edinburgh. In addition, she has delivered many keynote addresses at annual meetings of large health care and business groups and been selected as one of the outstanding instructors of the Harvard Business School MBA Program.
She has served on the Scientific Advisory Group to the U.S. Secretary of the Air Force and as a board member of many private and publicly-traded firms, mostly in the consumer-driven health care space, often as chair of the Governance and Audit subcommittees.
Question: What are some recent technological advances in health care?
Regina Herzlinger: The other important technological advances are in a field called remote patient monitoring. What this consists of is planting sensors inside the human body that measure what's going on.
Medtronic, for example, a great medical device company, has a sensor that measures how a heart, which suffers from congestive heart failure, the heart is so flaccid it can't pump the fluid in the body. It tells the owner of that heart, "Hey, you're getting congested. You better take a diuretic."
Or there's a little chip that can be embedded on a pill. You swallow the chip, the chip tells you that you have too much glucose in your body. That's very important information for a diabetic so that he or she can correct the glucose balance within their bodies.
That is the technological advance that's at least as important as the biotechnology advance in what's typically called personalized medicine.
Electronic medical records are no technological marvel. They're merely having an electronic record of what happens to you medically.
Why don't we have those? Why do we have financial records and no electronic medical records? The reason is that our health care system is so fragmented. We have bits and pieces of data with the lab, the x-ray place, the various doctors we go to, the hospitals, the nursing homes. These people don't communicate with each other.
The challenge with electronic medical records is not a technological one. It is a managerial one.
How do you line up incentives so that these people start communicating with each other so that the customer can have a complete record of everything that's been done to them and everything that's known about them medically?
Recorded on: May 27, 2009.