“EP143: Getting Great One Step at a Time Through Incrementalism, with Dr. Nick van Terheyden”
by Stacey Richter

Listen to the MP3 file directly by clicking here.

We need to make incrementalism sexy. We need to make it sexy because healthcare will be transformed via evolution, not revolution. As Dr. Nick van Terheyden says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” which is as true in American healthcare today as it was whenever this was written eons ago somewhere in China. Dr. Nick and I also discuss the potential of Telehealth and then, because possibly all roads lead here, to the age-old question of “Is healthcare a right or a privilege?”


Dr. Nick is a leader in Digital Healthcare and Innovation, and former Chief Medical Officer for Dell. He provides strategic insights and guidance to support healthcare organizations, medical professionals and patients through information-enabled healthcare. He brings an incremental approach to developing successful strategies and applying technology to achieve a technology environment that is interconnected, efficient and patient-focused. He is a highly sought out speaker on the practical and futuristic use of healthcare technology and how it can improve patient engagement and wellness.

Dr. Terheyden brings a distinctive blend of medical practitioner and business strategist, both national and international, to the realm of digital healthcare technology. A graduate of the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, University of London, Dr. van Terheyden is a pioneering creator in the evolution of healthcare technology. After several years as a medical practitioner in London and Australia, he joined an international who’s who in healthcare, academia and business, in the development of the first electronic health record in the early 1990’s and later, as a business leader in one of the first speech recognition companies. His rare combination of patience, creativity, skill and intrinsic business ethics has led him to a diverse career in healthcare with some of the most prestigious hospitals, consulting firms, and technology companies.

His focus is on small improvements we can learn from other industries and can be applied in healthcare to bring immediate value, but that also add up to the big leap we need and are all looking for – focusing on evolution not revolution. His most recent position was Chief Medical Officer for Dell where he was responsible for providing strategic insight establishing the organization as an innovator in healthcare technology and Digital Health.

In addition to writing and lecturing on futuristic trends in healthcare technology, his advice and counsel is sought by hospitals, physicians and other allied healthcare professionals all of whom are trying to figure out how to integrate and use technology to make the healthcare system work from the perspectives of quality and financial success. Dr. van Terheyden pays attention not just to processes and systems, but to people. His ability to speak in terms people can actually understand makes him a sought-out speaker.

Specialties: Digital Health, Internet of Medical Things (IoT), Medical Home, Healthcare Informatics, Speech Recognition, Natural Language Processing, Mobile Health, Social Media.


00:00 Incrementalism in healthcare.
03:00 Managing the end game in incremental steps.
04:00 Marking improvements in healthcare by incremental goals.
04:40 “Moneyball” as applied to healthcare.
06:15 Leading a team in healthcare incrementalism.
07:10 Managing individual skillsets to create the bigger picture.
09:00 Human intuition and pattern recognition.
09:30 “Trust, but verify.”
10:00 “I think one of the many things we fail to do in healthcare is empower.”
14:00 Telehealth and its untapped potential.
15:45 Direct Providers and Direct Care.
16:20 Helping people remain well.
16:40 The process of diagnosis.
19:45 One of the major failings of modern telehealth.
22:40 “Take that Knowledge and apply it at the Point of Care.”
26:15 How knowledge is applied at the point of care within incrementalism.
27:50 “Always follow the money.”