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Transforming Health Care Through Change Management: A Q&A with Jeremy Gutsche

Published on 9/24/2018

At this year’s Revenue Management Symposium at the 2018 Cerner Health Conference, we’re pleased to welcome keynote speaker Jeremy Gutsche. Gutsche is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning innovation expert and the founder of, the world’s number one most popular trend website. Today, over 500 brands, billionaires and CEOs rely on his unique expertise to find better ideas faster.

In a recent episode of The Cerner Podcast, we asked Gutsche to share his thoughts on how businesses can adapt to change and how change can be a catalyst for innovation and business transformation in any industry. Listen to the episode here and check out the full transcript below.

Change is in our DNA

Why do you think change can be so challenging for businesses and industries small and large to adapt to?

Gutsche: In my book, Better and Faster, there’s a metaphor I like to use: A million years ago, we were hunters, and hunters are nomadic – you must eat or be eaten. You’re always in search of that next meal. But 10,000 years ago, humankind planted the first seed, and when we did, that’s when society started forming. Now, 10,000 years later, we’ve evolved to repeat and optimize whatever lends to last year’s harvest.

Successful people in particular can fall victim to the farmer trap: Success makes us want to repeat what just happened, optimize it and be complacent and protective. What you’ll increasingly find is that whenever you’re in an organization where things are successful or have gone well, or where things are important, like in health care, then we become very much trapped by what those farmer-ingrained traps have started to do to us.

Being wary of vs. being ready for change

The health care industry is constantly evolving, and right now, we’re seeing a lot of shifting in the revenue cycle market. What are some of your observations about the shift?

When I compare how health care lists against other industries, one of the things I have found is that the end goal of helping patients has created a system where, more so than other industries, people get resistant to change. That’s because somewhere in the decision-making process, change and risk have equated to patients dying. Obviously, that doesn’t apply to every decision that’s being made at every organization, but it creates an umbrella of decision making that causes people to be overly conservative in health care.

One difference that I have noticed and observed in comparing the U.S. to other countries is that after the Affordable Care Act was first introduced, a lot of change had to happen quickly, and that caused the pace of change to increase for the first time in decades. So, right now, we’re actually in a unique position: People are currently in a mode where they understand change, they’ve gone through big change and see that it works. From that standpoint, we’re at a unique window of opportunity, where it is possible to make change happen.

Change management is essential for organizational growth

How do you think change management can help an organization succeed in the future, not just survive in the now?

If we went back to the 1950s, the average lifespan of a Fortune 500 company was typically around 75 years. Now, that’s fallen to a lifespan of about 15 years, and it’s expected to further decrease within the next few years. If we look at the list of Fortune 500 from the year 2000, 52 percent of the companies are displaced or gone.

Here’s what that says: Our business practices and our corporations were built in an era where we expected that things were going to last. Today, corporations have all those old farmer traps, because we want to repeat, optimize and protect everything that we’ve created. Increasingly, though, as the pace of change has increased in all industries, people have become more aware of how disruption is happening, how companies are falling if they don’t adapt.

If you want to make change happen, you channel your hunter instincts – insatiable curiosity and a willingness to destroy what doesn’t work. You can bring an organization through change by workshopping what that change looks like and involving lots of people in the co-creation of where you’re headed. It also helps to have an eye to other industries: Notice how other people are changing, what other companies are doing. Most importantly, create a mindset where people realize that the status quo isn’t going to work, and you’ll have to work together in order to evolve.

What is one actionable recommendation you can share with leadership when it comes to adapting to change and business transformation?

The simplest message is this: Everyone wants to get better and faster, but not everyone puts in the effort. In my keynote at the Revenue Management Symposium, we’re going to talk about why you need to put in the effort, what happens if you don’t and how easy it is to get consumed with rules and regulations and brand standards and compliance. If you want to take your career and your team to the next level, it does require putting in effort.  


Join us at the Revenue Management Symposium (RMS), beginning Sunday, October 7. We’ll feature a networking reception followed by a full day of revenue cycle-focused general sessions, beginning with Jeremy’s keynote at 8 a.m. CST on Monday, October 8. Financial education sessions then continue throughout the rest of the 2018 Cerner Health Conference (CHC). Register for CHC and/or RMS here.