Robert Pearl, MD – Quality Talks 2020

“The biggest problem in American health care is us.” That’s how Dr. Robert Pearl, the longtime head of Kaiser Permanente, sums it up. “As patients, we wrongly assume the best care is dependent mainly on the newest medications, the most complex treatments, and the smartest doctors.” But why not build a better system, instead? And why not build it around the concept of prevention?


Dr. Pearl knows the current system’s failures all too well, professionally and personally: He lost his father from what he says was poor patient-clinician communication and subpar treatment plans. So, it should be no surprise he makes a passionate plea for shaking it all up in his best-selling book, Mistreated. In it, he explains why flawed perceptions are so common and how changes in structure, technology, financing and leadership could significantly lift quality outcomes.


In his latest incarnation as a Stanford professor, Pearl hopes to inspire students who will turn it all around. His pupils… and then payers, providers… and maybe us.