Robert Pearl MD
Dr. Robert Pearl is the former CEO of The Permanente Medical Group (1999-2017), the nation's largest medical group, and former president of The Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group (2009-2017). In these roles he led 10,000 physicians, 38,000 staff and was responsible for the nationally recognized medical care of 5 million Kaiser Permanente members on the west and east coasts.
Named one of Modern Healthcare's 50 most influential physician leaders, Pearl is an advocate for the power of integrated, prepaid, technologically advanced and physician-led healthcare delivery.
He serves as a clinical professor of plastic surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine and is on the faculty of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he teaches courses on strategy and leadership, and lectures on information technology and health care policy.
He is the author of "Mistreated: Why We think We're Getting Good Healthcare--And Why We're Usually Wrong," a Washington Post bestseller that offers a roadmap for transforming American healthcare. His new book, "Uncaring: How the Culture of Medicine Kills Doctors & Patients" is available now. All proceeds from these books go to Doctors Without Borders.
Dr. Pearl hosts the popular podcasts Fixing Healthcare and Coronavirus: The Truth. He publishes a newsletter with over 12,000 subscribers called Monthly Musings on American Healthcare and is a regular contributor to Forbes. He has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNBC, NPR, and in TIME, USA Today and Bloomberg News. He has published more than 100 articles in medical journals and contributed to numerous books. A frequent keynote speaker at healthcare and medical technology conferences. Pearl has addressed the Commonwealth Club, the World Healthcare Congress, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's National Quality Forum and the National Committee for Quality Improvement (NCQA).
Board certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery, Pearl received his medical degree from the Yale University School of Medicine, followed by a residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery at Stanford University.
From 2012 to 2017, Pearl served as chairman of the Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP), which includes the nation's largest and best multispecialty medical groups, and participated in the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Delivery System Reform and Health IT in Washington, D.C.
Robert Pearl MD
Featured Keynote Programs
Five Audacious Changes That Would Save Hundreds of Thousands of Lives Annually and Lower Costs by More Than 20%
Dr. Pearl begins this talk by having the audience think back a decade about healthcare. And then gets them to consider/tell him what is different today than in the past. Unless the audience obtained coverage through Medicaid or the individual exchange (rarely the people in the audience) the answer is "nothing".
Dr. Pearl then discusses disruption and the threats that exist and recommends alternatives:
1. The first is to close half of the hospitals in the United States and convert some of them to 24-hour ERs. We are in a vicious cycle where low volume hospitals and services drive up costs and produce unnecessary utilization. In this part, Dr. Pearl talks about all of the operational efficiencies possible and the success that his team achieved in Kaiser Permanente when he was a CEO at lowering utilization to half of the national average while making Kaiser Permanente the leader in quality based on the NCQA evaluations.
2. Ask an organization like Leapfrog to define the volumes per procedure a surgeon must do and not pay doctors who fail to meet them. Not only does low volume lower quality, but it raises costs since physicians who "dabble" rarely take the time to improve performance. The example Dr. Pearl uses is total joints in which we went from a 3-day average length of stay to 60% of the procedures being done as an outpatient.
3. Eliminate the 30% of procedures that add no value through a rigorous set of second opinions and centers of excellence.
4. Provide "concierge" primary care to every patient. The mathematics is hard to explain in one line, but by investing about 1% of the total health care spend in primary care expansion, there is a 10% reduction in hospital, drug and specialty costs. Dr. Pearl uses various primary care groups with whom he has worked with as examples.
5. Use technology including video, AI and smartphone embedded algorithms to help every patient get the same level of excellence in care regardless of where they live. Dr. Pearl uses specific example of what he has done to bring in consultative and specialist expertise from hundreds of miles away, to allow continuous patient monitoring when they are at home and identify patients on medical/surgical units who today seem fine but tomorrow will deteriorate and require ICU admission. By addressing their problems before they happen, mortality and cost are decreased by 75%.
Depending on the group, Dr. Pearl closes with a call to action – either specific to a medical group, insurance organization, purchaser or lay audience. For health care professions, the point is change now or regret it later. For patients, it recognizes all that you are failing to receive and begin to demand it. For each point, there are stories and interesting research that engage the listener and cause them to leave with enthusiasm about what is possible.
Other Speaking Topics
Healthcare speaker and former CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, Dr. Robert Pearl offers a fascinating transparent look at the American healthcare system as he reveals why we receive surprisingly little value for the tremendous amount of money we spend as a nation and patients. He gets to the heart of what truly needs to change in healthcare – the way we perceive it and the way it is delivered. Motivated by the death of his own father which was caused by miscommunication among physicians, Dr. Pearl presents a hopeful and viable proposal that includes restructuring our health care system and introducing technologies that will give us better clinical outcomes while reducing errors and costs.
Dr. Pearl speaks frequently on the intersection of American healthcare, business and policy. Popular themes include:
• Americans spend the most money on healthcare, yet our quality outcomes lag most industrialized nations: Why?
• How does the context of American healthcare distort the perception and alter the behavior of doctors and patients?
• What are the four pillars that will transform the future of our healthcare system?