The Double Edged Sword of Healthcare Culture

Rasu Shrestha, MD shared the tweet above today which caused me to ponder on the impact of culture on healthcare. This tweet was particularly interesting coming from Rasu who has created a unique culture of innovation within healthcare at UPMC.

While at RSNA, Rasu recounted to me how his UPMC innovation offices shares a building with the Google office. When interviewing candidates, many of those prospects interview at both UPMC and Google. There’s no way that Rasu and his team can compete with Google as far as perks. However, there’s no way that Google (at least the offices in Pittsburgh) can compete with the impact UPMC can have on the lives of individuals.

If it weren’t for the culture and mission of Rasu and UPMC, then they wouldn’t stand a chance recruiting people away from Google. However, that mission makes all the difference for the right person. Plus, if that person doesn’t understand the mission, then UPMC doesn’t likely want them in the first place.

While I believe that Rasu has created a special culture of innovation, the same can’t be said for much of healthcare. In fact, if you read the tweet at the top another way, healthcare culture is holding innovation behind in so many ways.

Said another way, Culture trumps everything and that can be good or bad.

A culture of innovation is great, because it spurs more innovation. A culture of being closed. A culture of fear. A culture of bureaucracy. Those can all be extremely damaging and stifle innovation and change that could improve healthcare.

I want to be careful to say that I’m not advocating a culture of recklessness. Culture can be taken too far either direction. However, I know very few people in healthcare who are reckless and I know a lot of people in healthcare who are paralyzed by a culture of fear.

Take a second to think about your culture and the impact for good and bad it has on your and your organization’s choices.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.