How Intermountain is Moving Faster and Smarter to Transform Healthcare


Intermountain Healthcare CEO Marc Harrison, MD, details the importance of taking risks to be a leader in reshaping care delivery.

Marc Harrison, MD and Tom Robinson

2 min read

Healthcare organizations had no choice but to change their operations swiftly during the past 18 months. The pandemic forced rapid adoption of telemedicine, building up a remote workforce, and greater acceptance of value-based models. Changes that normally took months or years to take root were happening in weeks. There’s no going back to the old ways of doing business, Marc Harrison, MD, tells Oliver Wyman Partner Tom Robinson in the latest Oliver Wyman Health Podcast.

“I'm an impatient CEO,” says Harrison, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, a 24-hospital system based in Salt Lake City, Utah. “I teased my team. I said, ‘Now that I know how fast you can go, we're going to keep going really fast because people need it.’ I think people are more willing to take some risks, and I think they're willing to get things wrong in the interest of continuing to evolve and going fast on behalf of the people we serve.”

Harrison shares insights on how Intermountain’s willingness to take on more financial risk and embark on a reorganization, which were happening before COVID-19 hit, have enabled it to get creative with care models, including pushing more services into rural communities, addressing social determinants, and reducing unnecessary utilization. Nearly 50% of the system’s $11 billion in revenue is tied to a full-risk model, according to Harrison. He also discusses how his personal experience with cancer shapes his philosophy around transforming healthcare.

Listen to the Podcast

Show Highlights:

  • “Of our 45,000 people, fully a quarter of them are working from home at this point in time. We've learned that people really don't want to go back to the old way of all the time in the office.”
  • We actually reorganized the whole organization to deliver against value-based care.”
  • “Our biggest impediment to moving even faster, to be quite honest, are the commercial insurance companies who I think are still making a lot of money in very much transactional, volume-based arrangements. We continue to encourage them very vigorously to move in the same direction that we're moving, because it sure does feel good to keep people from getting a heart surgery instead of performing that heart surgery on them.”
  • “I am bound and determined to try and change the system so that the resources exist for every regular American to get exactly what they need when they need it, but no more.”
  • “Utah, over the last three years we've actually seen a decrease in premiums by 6% on average at a time when, over three years, nationally it's about a 5% increase year-on-year. If you add that up, it's pretty darn close to a 25% decrease based on what the market should have done.”