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Welcome to Episode #52 of Habitual Excellence, presented by Value Capture.

In today's episode, our guest is Patrick Conway, M.D. who became CEO of Care Solutions at Optum in June 2020. Prior to that, Patrick served as a senior executive in residence at United Health Group and Optum. From 2017-2019, he was President and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Previously, Conway served as Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In this role he also held the position of Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). 

Conway joined CMS in 2011 as the agency’s Chief Medical Officer and served as Principal Deputy Administrator and Acting Administrator, the most senior non-political leader at CMS.

In the episode, Patrick discusses the following with our host, Mark Graban:

  • How and where did you first get introduced to Lean concepts and Lean management?
  • What did Lean mean to you, specifically, as a pediatric physician?
  • When you were Chief Medical Officer for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, you were a speaker at the Catalysis Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit, what messages were you sharing?
  • What was the application of Lean within CMS?
  • What's the role of role of payment systems and incentives as a driver of improvement in safety, quality, and cost?
  • What was the role of CMS, HHS, and the federal government in encouraging improvements to patient safety & quality? In encouraging Lean or related methods?
  • After CMS you went to BCBS of NC, tell me more about the work there.
  • In your role as CEO of Care Solutions at Optum at UnitedHealth Group, what does Lean mean to you? What is your role in this?
  • Tell us about going to the front line with home health care…
  • Bringing Covid vaccination and testing to patients?
  • Final reflection question - what do you wish others would learn sooner than later about leadership / improvement?

Watch the Episode:


"I won't be the best on day one or month one, but I'll be the best at getting better."

"[At a payer], we had processes where we were doing prior authorizations and were approving them 99.99% of the time. But we had a bunch of back and forth of paper and faxes that would make you sad. And so, let's just get rid of that."

"And I do these frontline listening sessions with our nurses and nurse practitioners and others delivering the care. That's where I get my energy."

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