Scott Wallace is a leading thinker and advocate for transforming the way health care is delivered in America. He has leveraged his business and health policy background to help employers, health care providers, health plans, governments and others — in the U.S. and around the world — develop new health benefit and care models that improve health, stop the progression of chronic diseases and effectively treat patients’ medical conditions.
“The Dell Medical School is raising the aspirations for transforming health care,” Wallace explains. “Value-based strategy is about improving the health outcomes for individuals in ways that reduce spending on health care. Dell Med is creating scalable services in Austin that can be replicated around the country.”
Wallace comes to Dell Med from Dartmouth College, where he was on the college’s inaugural Masters Program in Health Care Delivery Science faculty. Wallace also teaches workshops on value-based health care delivery in collaboration with Elizabeth Teisberg — a leading expert on value creation. Wallace and Teisberg have written about their work in their forthcoming book Capability, Comfort and Calm: Designing Health Care Services for Excellence and Empathy.
Wallace was appointed by President George W. Bush to chair the Commission on Systemic Interoperability — a Congressionally-chartered federal commission created to advise the White House and Congress on health transformation through information technology. He also was the first president and CEO of the National Alliance for Health Information Technology, an organization committed to creating a safer, more efficient and unified health care system through IT. And he was a co-founder of the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology, the leading health care IT certification body. Before that, he led a successful specialty chemical company that grew 10-fold during his tenure and worked in corporate law and venture capital.
Wallace took some time to answer questions about the Dell Medical School and its opportunity to transform health care:
Why Dell Med?
The Dell Medical School is an exciting opportunity because it doesn’t presume a silver bullet solution. Health care transformation needs better use of IT, but that has to be in support of value-based strategy. In turn, those strategies need to be based on human-centered design that addresses patients’ and families’ needs. The Dell Med team is developing innovative curriculum, community health services, integrated practice units for clinical care, meaningful measures of results, and new payment models. Everyone on this team recognizes that innovation is not the goal – the goal is to transform the value of health care delivery. In achieving that, we can make Austin the epicenter of this transformation.
What will be the focus of your work here?
Like most of my colleagues at Dell Med, my goal is to demonstrate that we can improve the health of the people we serve and can do so effectively and efficiently enough that we make it easy for people to be healthy.
My contribution to the broader mission of Dell Med involves teaching and advising people here and around the country to design care delivery that is built around the needs of patients. We will publish books and articles on value in care delivery – with a particular focus on our work in Austin – and create educational materials that help people understand the ideas of value.
What attracted you to this new role?
The mission of Dell Med; it’s unique. The support of the people of Travis County and the vision of UT Austin uniquely position the school. It isn’t simply studying the challenges facing health care delivery — we have taken responsibility for fixing those problems and for developing systems that improve the health of the people in our community. That’s exciting.
You have a background working at the intersection of health technology and health care delivery transformation. What is your vision for what’s possible as we “rethink health care” in Austin?
We can create care delivery that is built around the way people experience their health; that meets all of their needs for better health; and that is convenient, effective and affordable.
What will be your measures of success?
There isn’t one measure; there are many. Good health care restores, protects and improves people’s capabilities – the things they want to do. It restores comfort, relieving pain and reducing the angst and anxiety that poor health creates. And it does so in an atmosphere of calm, without the chaos and stress that interacting with the health care delivery system causes most people now.
How do collaboration and partnerships fit into your work?
I’m not a clinician. I’m a former attorney, venture capitalist and business person who got involved in health care late in life. My expertise is in organizing care, not delivering it. For anything that I do to have impact, it has to be done in partnership — with other business people who want better health for their employees; with the insurance companies and government agencies that pay for so much of the care in the US; with the clinicians and caregivers who provide care to patients; and most importantly, to the people we serve. Health care has to become a partnership with the people who are being served.
What benefits do you expect your work, and the work of the Dell Medical School, to provide to the people of Austin and Travis County?
Better health, more easily attained. We can do so much more to relieve suffering, prevent illness and ensure great health, and Dell Med has a mission and a mandate to do that.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities that you’re anticipating?
My work involves helping to stand up a large and complex care delivery organization from scratch. That’s a huge challenge – and an even greater opportunity. At the same time, the myriad resources of The University of Texas at Austin and the Austin community present almost endless opportunities for changing health care delivery.
What are you most excited about as you join the Dell Med team?
Becoming part of a team of people who share a vision and a passion for dramatically improving health and care.