Conversations About Healthcare Reform

Sponsored by Intermountain Healthcare, the Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series brings together national health policy experts and Utah leaders to discuss local solutions for the challenges facing America's medical system.

Registration for these luncheon events is by invitation only and free to attendees, as guests of Intermountain.


Past Speakers

Past speakers for the Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series have included Dr. Atul Gawande, Clayton Christensen, Dr. Donald Berwick, Dr. Elliott Fisher, and Shannon Brownlee.

Ceci Connolly, Alliance of Community Health Plans President and CEO

Ceci Connolly, a nationally recognized healthcare leader, took over as president and CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans in January 2016. In her role, she works with some of the most innovative executives in the health sector to provide high-quality, evidence-based, affordable care. She is passionate about transforming America’s system to deliver greater value to all. Connolly has spent more than a decade in healthcare, first as a national correspondent for the Washington Post and then in thought leadership roles at two international consulting firms. She is a leading thinker and book author in the disruptive forces shaping the health industry and has been a trusted adviser to c-suite executives who share her commitment to equitable, patient-centered care. She is the first non-physician to receive the prestigious Mayo Clinic Plummer Society award for promoting deeper understanding of science and medicine and in 2001 was awarded a fellowship to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She is a graduate of Boston College.

Gail Wilensky, former senior health and welfare adviser to President George H. W. Bush and Medicare and Medicaid director, current Senior Fellow at Project HOPE

Gail Wilensky, Ph.D., is an economist and senior fellow at Project HOPE, an international health foundation. She is the former director of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and served in the White House as a senior health and welfare adviser to President George H. W. Bush. She also chaired the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which advises Congress on payment and other issues relating to Medicare, and previously chaired one of its predecessor commissions, the Physician Payment Review Commission. Dr. Wilensky co-chaired the President’s Task Force to Improve Health Care Delivery for Our Nation’s Veterans and served as a Commissioner on the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors. She was also a commissioner on the World Health Organization’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. Dr. Wilensky testifies frequently before Congressional committees, serves as an adviser to members of Congress and other elected officials, speaks nationally and internationally before professional, business, and consumer groups. Dr. Wilensky received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Michigan and has received several honorary degrees.

Carolyn Clancy, MD, Deputy Under Secretary for Health, U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Dr. Clancy oversees performance, quality, safety, risk management, systems engineering, auditing, oversight, ethics and accreditation programs to address the immediate and long-term needs of our nation’s veterans. She leads more than 700 clinical and administrative professionals in the day-to-day operations of these key programmatic elements. Prior to her current position, she served as the Interim Under Secretary for Health overseeing the nation’s largest integrated healthcare system, as well as serving for 10 years as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Director. Dr. Clancy, a general internist and health services researcher, is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She holds an academic appointment at George Washington University School of Medicine, serves as Senior Associate Editor, Health Services Research, and is a member of the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Clancy has authored and/or contributed to numerous academic textbooks and scholarly journal articles. She served as a member of the National Quality Forum Board of Directors, as the Chair of the AQA Alliance, and served on the Board of Governors for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Clancy was most recently presented with the 2014 Quality Champion Award, National Committee for Quality Assurance, and was named as Honorary Fellow, American Academy of Nursing.

Brent James, MD, MStat

Dr. Brent James is known internationally for his work in clinical quality improvement, patient safety, and the infrastructure that underlies successful improvement efforts such as culture change, data systems, payment methods, and management roles. He currently serves as Chief Quality Officer for Intermountain Healthcare and Executive Director of the Intermountain Institute for Health Care Delivery Research. Dr. James is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine. For almost 30 years, Dr. James has championed the continual improvement of clinical care through data collection and analysis on a wide variety of treatment protocols and complex care processes. Dr. James is a recipient of The Deming Cup from the Columbia University School of Business, the Codman Award from the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, the American Hospital Association Hospital Research and Education Trust 2005 TRUST Award, National Committee for Quality Assurance Quality Award, and many others. Dr. James has also been recognized as a leader in healthcare by Modern Physician, Modern Healthcare, and numerous organizations. Before coming to Intermountain, he was Assistant Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health and served on the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

Patrick Conway, MD, MSc

Dr. Conway is the Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality and CMS Chief Medical Officer. He leads the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation at CMS. Dr. Conway has published articles in journals such as JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, Health Affairs, and Pediatrics, and has presented on topics including healthcare policy, quality of care, comparative effectiveness, hospitalist systems, and quality improvement. He completed his pediatrics residency at Harvard Medical School's Boston Children's Hospital, graduated with honors from Baylor College of Medicine and summa cum laude from Texas A&M University. Dr. Conway presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on October 20, 2015.

Mark Wietecha

Mr. Wietecha is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Hospital Association, an institution representing over 200 hospital organizations and programs dedicated to improving child health through innovation in care, education, and research. In addition to the Children’s Hospital Association Board of Trustees, he serves on the Boards of the Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems of the AAMC, the Coalition to Protect America’s Health Care, and Virtual PICU Systems, LLC, where he also served as chair. Mr. Wietecha is the current chair of the UCLA Health System Board of Overseers. Mr. Wietecha presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on August 13, 2015.

Charles W. Sorenson, MD

Dr. Sorenson was President and Chief Executive Officer of Intermountain Healthcare from 2009 to 2016. Previously, he was Intermountain’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. A urologic surgeon, he continues to practice surgery at Intermountain Medical Center with a primary focus on urologic oncology. Dr. Sorenson served as Chair of the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Young Surgeons and was Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery at LDS Hospital. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and a medical degree from the Cornell University Medical College. Dr. Sorenson presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on April 1, 2015.

Thomas H. Lee, MD

Dr. Lee joined Press Ganey Associates as chief medical officer in 2013, bringing more than three decades of experience in healthcare performance improvement as a practicing physician, a leader in provider organizations, researcher and health policy expert. Dr. Lee is an internist and cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Previously, he served as Network President for Partners Healthcare System and CEO for Partners Community HealthCare, Inc., the integrated delivery system founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Lee presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on December 15, 2014.

David Wennberg, MD, MPH

Dr. Wennberg is CEO of the Northern New England Accountable Care Collaborative, which creates common financing and accountability models and provides a common infrastructure to support the delivery of value-based accountable care. Dr. Wennberg also serves as the director of the High Value Health Collaborative at the Dartmouth Institute. Previously, he co-founded Health Dialog Analytic Solutions, the analytic division of Health Dialog and served as Health Dialog’s chief science officer. His work has been published in many peer-reviewed medical journals and he is an internationally recognized authority on the root causes of unwarranted variation in medical care. Dr. Wennberg presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on August 26, 2014.

Christine Cassel, MD

Dr. Cassel is president and CEO of the National Quality Forum, is a leading expert in geriatric medicine, medical ethics, and quality of care. Dr. Cassel is one of 20 scientists chosen by President Obama to serve on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and she is the author or co-author of 14 books and more than 200 journal articles. She is an adjunct professor of medicine and senior fellow in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Cassel presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on April 15, 2014.

Greg Bell

Mr. Bell has been named to lead the UHA, which is private, nonprofit association representing Utah hospitals, after more than 23 years of public policy experience, having most recently served as Lieutenant Governor of the state of Utah. Previously, he served as a senator and in the leadership of the Utah State Senate. Bell has provided leadership on a number of healthcare policy issues. His roles included chair for the Executive Health Policy Group for Utah’s top healthcare policy leaders; chair of the Governor’s Tort Reform Medical Liability Workgroup; co-chair of the Utah Health Exchange Advisory Board; and chair of Utah’s Emergency Management Administration Council. Mr. Bell presented at Healthy Dialogues on November 12, 2013.

Dee Edington, PhD

Dr. Edington is a professor in the Division of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan. He is the founder and recently retired director of the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center. He also is the founder and chairman of Edington Associates, which helps organizations build a thriving and sustainable workplace and workforce. Trained in mathematics, kinesiology, and biochemistry, Dr. Edington's research focuses on the precursors of disease and vitality and on the relationships between healthy lifestyles, vitality, and quality of life, as they benefit both individuals and organizations. He is specifically interested in how individual health management, worksite wellness activities, and programs within organizations impact healthcare cost containment, productivity, and human resource development. He is the author or co-author of more than 800 articles, presentations, and several books. Dr. Edgington presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on June 4, 2013.

Shannon Brownlee

Ms. Brownlee is well-known for offering counter-intuitive solutions to the nation's healthcare problems, and her presentation at a recent Healthy Dialogues did not disappoint the Salt Lake audience comprised of local healthcare leaders. Overtreated was named the No. 1 economics book of 2007 by The New York Times. Brownlee is the acting director of the nonpartisan think tank New America Foundation Health Policy Program in Washington, D.C.; she is also an instructor at the Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at Dartmouth Medical School. Brownlee is a former senior writer and editor at U.S. News & World Report, and her work has appeared in The New York Times magazine, The New RepublicTimeThe Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times, among others, and she was featured in the PBS documentary, Money & Medicine. Ms. Brownlee presented at Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on January 31, 2013.

Roger Weisberg

Director and producer Roger Weisberg introduced Money & Medicine, an investigative documentary filmed at UCLA Medical Center and Intermountain Medical Center that illuminates the powerful forces driving soaring healthcare costs as well as dangers patients face from over-diagnosis and over-treatment. Mr. Weisberg is president of Public Policy Productions and has produced documentaries on a variety of social issues that have aired in prime time on PBS and networks around the world. His films have won more than 100 awards, including Peabody, Emmy, and duPont-Columbia awards, and an Academy Award nomination in 2000. Money & Medicine aired nationally on PBS on September 25, 2012. Mr. Weisberg presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on August 28, 2012, and shared a preview of his documentary.

Atul Gawande, MD, MPH

Dr. Gawande is a practicing surgeon, and an accomplished writer, teacher, and speaker who offers a unique perspective on the practice of medicine, the reform of healthcare, and the human struggle to do better — to improve performance. Dr. Gawande is the author of three bestselling books: Complications; and Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance; as well as The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. Dr. Gawande is a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He is an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Research Director for the BWH Center for Surgery and Public Health. Dr. Gawande is also a staff writer on medicine and science for The New Yorker magazine. Dr. Gawande presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on June 21, 2012.

Clayton M. Christensen

Professor Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration professor at Harvard Business School and the best-selling author of several books, including recently released Disrupting Class and The Innovator's Prescription. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 1992, Christensen served as chairman and president of CPS Technologies, a firm he co-founded with several MIT professors in 1984. He is the bestselling author of five books, including his seminal work The Innovator's Dilemma, which received the Global Business Book Award for the best business book of the year. Recently, Christensen has written on social issues such as education (Disrupting Class) and healthcare (The Innovator's Prescription, which won the 2010 James A. Hamilton Award by the College of Healthcare Executives). He holds a B.A. from Brigham Young University, and an M.Phil. from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He received an MBA and his DBA from the Harvard Business School. He presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on March 23, 2012.

Philip Bredesen

Former Gov. Bredesen, a Democrat, served as Tennessee's governor from 2003 until 2011. He is the author of Fresh Medicine: How to Fix Reform and Build a Sustainable Health Care System (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010). Known for his bipartisan approach to problem-solving and careful fiscal management, Bredesen's political style proved successful and popular. Among senior elected officials, Gov. Bredesen has unusually deep experience in the field of healthcare. As a private-sector entrepreneur, he started a managed care business from his home in 1980 and grew it to an NYSE-listed company with 6,000 employees before the end of the decade. As governor, he reformed Tennessee's troubled Medicaid program – called TennCare – and developed several innovative approaches to assisting the uninsured. Former Gov. Bredesen presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on November 10, 2011.

David Merritt

Mr. Merritt is executive vice president of the Center for Health Transformation and the Gingrich Group. The Center, headed by former Speaker Newt Gingrich, is a collaboration of leaders dedicated to transforming health and healthcare in America. Prior to joining the Center, he was with America's Health Insurance Plans. As an expert on national health reform and health information technology, Mr. Merritt advises former Speaker Gingrich and directs the Center's policy and communications efforts. Previously, he was a health policy adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain. Mr. Merritt presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on June 6, 2011.

Former U.S. Senator Bob Bennett

Mr. Bennett is a former United States senator from Utah. While in office from January 1993 to January 2011, he held chairmanships and senior positions on a number of key Senate committees, including the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Appropriations Committee, Rules and administration Committee, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Joint Economic Committee. Sen. Bennett was at the forefront of healthcare reform. He co-sponsored the Healthy Americans Act, the first major bipartisan healthcare legislation in more than a decade. Former Sen. Bennett presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on March 17, 2011.

Richard de Filippi

Mr. de Filippi served as chairman of the American Hospital Association. In addition to his service at the AHA, Mr. de Filippi is a trustee and former chairman of the board of the Cambridge Health Alliance, a major safety-net healthcare system and one of the largest in Massachusetts. He is also managing partner of the Ariano Partnership, a consulting group working largely with emerging technology-based companies. Mr. de Filippi presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on May 24, 2010.

Michael O. Leavitt

Former Secretary Michael O. Leavitt was elected three times as governor of Utah (1993-2003). In 2003, he was appointed a member of President George W. Bush's cabinet, serving as the 10th head of the Environmental Protection Agency (2003-2005) and the 20th secretary of Health and Human Services (2005-2009). As governor, Leavitt was elected chairman of the National Governors Association, and the Republican Governors and the Western Governors associations. During his eleven years as governor, independent public policy analysts named Utah six times as America's best-managed state. Mr. Leavitt presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on June 25, 2009.

Donald M. Berwick, MD, MPP

Dr. Berwick presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on February 4, 2009. At the time, he was president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to innovative change in healthcare worldwide. He has served as a clinical professor of pediatrics and Health Care Policy in the Department of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and as professor of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. In addition, Dr. Berwick has served as adjunct staff in the Department of Medicine at Children's Hospital Boston, and a consultant in pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Newt Gingrich

Mr. Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, discussed national health reform efforts and praised Intermountain during his keynote presentation to Utah leaders, calling Intermountain one of the country's "centers of brilliance." Gingrich is founder of the nonpartisan Center for Health Transformation, a high-impact collaboration of private and public sector leaders committed to creating a 21st-century health system. During his visit to Salt Lake City, Gingrich detailed his plan for healthcare reform, some of which was modeled on Intermountain's successes in implementing evidence-based clinical protocols and the development of electronic medical records. Mr. Gingrich presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on October 29, 2008.

Bradley A. Perkins, MD, MBA

Dr. Perkins presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on April 29, 2008. At the time, Dr. Perkins was the chief strategy and innovation officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is considered "a catalyst for CDC efforts to influence health system transformation in ways that emphasize health protection and health equity through policy interventions and multi-sector and public engagement."

Ken Kizer, MD, MPH

Dr. Kizer led a dramatic transformation of the Veterans Administration hospital system – one of the world's largest health organizations with an annual budget of more than $20 billion, approximately 200,000 employees, and more than 1,300 facilities. As Under Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs, he used information technology and best practice guidelines to significantly cut costs while improving medical quality and outcomes. Dr. Kizer presented at Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series on January 24, 2008.

Mark Chassin, MD, MPP, MPH

Dr. Chassin presented at a Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on October 24, 2007. At the time, he was president of The Joint Commission (as of January 1, 2008). During his presentation he said America already spends enough money on healthcare to provide effective care for all, including those who are currently uninsured. What our country needs is a "quality-driven health strategy" that addresses issues of medical overuse (doing more than is medically necessary/appropriate), under-use (the failure to provide a service when it would have helped), and misuse (medical mistakes).

Elliott Fisher, MD, MPH

Dr. Fisher was the inaugural national speaker, presenting at Intermountain's first Healthy Dialogues Speaker Series event on July 19, 2007. Currently, Dr. Fisher is Director of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and the John E Wennberg Distinguished Professor of Health Policy, Medicine and Community and Family Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He has served as director of the Institute for Health Care Research and Reform in Dartmouth's Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences and has been a leader in the university's Atlas of Health Care research project. His service has included co-chair of the National Quality Forum committee, developing a framework for measuring and improving healthcare efficiency. Citing a study of Medicare patients that focused on effectiveness of care, Dr. Fisher noted that the average expenditure per patient at Intermountain's flagship hospital was less than half the expenditures at leading hospitals in California, New York, and Baltimore – with equal or superior quality.