Susan Dentzer Profile

Susan Dentzer is the President and Chief Executive Officer of NEHI, the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization composed of more than 100 stakeholder organizations from across all key sectors of health and health care. NEHI’s mission is to advance innovations that improve health, enhance the quality of healthcare, and achieve greater value for the money spent. With offices in Washington, DC, and Boston, Massachusetts, NEHI conducts independent, objective research and thought leadership to accelerate these innovations and bring about changes in health care and public policy.

Dentzer is one of the nation’s most respected health and health policy thought leaders and a frequent speaker and commentator on television and radio, including PBS and NPR. She previously served as senior policy adviser to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy focused on health and healthcare in the United States, and as the editor-in-chief of the policy journal Health Affairs. From 1998 to 2008, she was the on-air Health Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. Dentzer wrote and hosted the 2015 PBS documentary, Reinventing American Healthcare, focusing on the innovations pioneered by the Geisinger Health System and spread to health systems across the nation.

Dentzer is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) and also serves on the Academy’s Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice. She is also an elected member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a fellow of the National Academy of Social Insurance; and a fellow of the Hastings Center, a nonpartisan bioethics research institute. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Rescue Committee, a leading global humanitarian organization; a member of the board of directors of Research!America, which advocates on behalf of biomedical and health-related research; and is a member of the board of directors of the Public Health Institute, a nonprofit organization addressing public health issues and solutions nationwide. From 2011 to 2017 she was a public member of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Medical Specialties, which assists 24 medical specialty boards in the ongoing evaluation and certification of physicians. She also is a member of the RAND Health Board of Advisors.

Dentzer graduated from Dartmouth, is a trustee emeritum of the college, and chaired the Dartmouth Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2004. She has served as a member of the Board of Overseers of Dartmouth Medical School for more than two decades. Dentzer holds an honorary master’s degree from Dartmouth and an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Muskingum University. She and her husband have three grown children.

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    Susan Dentzer is one of the nation’s most respected health and health policy thought leaders and a frequent speaker and commentator on television and radio, including PBS and NPR, and an author of commentaries and analyses in print publications such as Modern Healthcare, the Annals of Internal Medicine, and the New England Journal of Medicine and NEJM Catalyst. She is also the editor and lead author of the book Health Care Without Walls: A Roadmap for Reinventing U.S. Health Care, available on

    She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, the Washington, DC-based arm of Duke University that focuses on health system transformation, biopharmaceutical policy, and other key health policy issues. At the Center, she focuses on research and thought leadership for modernizing the health care system through the use of greater virtual care and a reconfigured health care work force; improving health and health care in rural areas; anticipating a future of effective treatments for Alzheimer’s and other dementias; and other topics.

    From 2016 to January 2019, Dentzer was President and Chief Executive Officer of NEHI, the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization composed of more than 80 stakeholder organizations from across all key sectors of health and health care.

Susan Dentzer Speaking Videos

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Susan Dentzer's Speech Descriptions

Candid but graceful, Susan Dentzer uses her insider knowledge to deliver clear and trustworthy insights on healthcare, healthcare policy, and their ties to the bigger picture of economics and politics. Pointing out both problems and solutions, she dedicates time and care to answering her audiences’ questions, humbly noting that: “I learn just as much from the people in the audience when I speak as I’m sure any of you learn from me.”

Health Care Without Walls: A Roadmap for Reinventing U.S. Health Care.
“Imagine a health care system that came to you -- a system that met you, as an individual, where you are, in your home, workplace, or community, in part through such ‘virtual care’ modalities as telehealth. Such a system would anticipate your needs and work to keep you as healthy as possible, and view any of your needs to access “sick care” as a possible sign that the system had let you down. This system would address the upstream drivers of your health status, and yet be as convenient and accessible as other elements of your life that you now take for granted, like ordering online. Such a system could be called ‘Health Care Without

Susan Dentzer can describe current trends and examples moving us toward the vision of Health Care Without Walls, and the public policy changes and private sector measures also necessary to achieve it. Although there will be many benefits in achieving a far more distributed system of care outside of conventional institutional settings, such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, and nursing homes, a number of payment/reimbursement, regulatory, work 2 force, and human factors issues must be addressed before such a system can be realized. Dentzer can describe the need for a “21st Century Hill Burton” program to assist many of the nation’s hospitals in transforming into new roles. In particular, Dentzer can discuss the many implications for the nation’s health care work force; education and training of health care professionals; and in particular, interprofessional education and training to deliver the teambased, virtually enabled care that will increasingly be the norm. She can offer examples of organizations that are engaging in such efforts, and describe the opportunities that may emerge for research and other partnerships to advance the field.

Unequal Opportunities, Unequal Outcomes? Averting the Worst for Health and Health Care in America
As the world reaps the fruits of genomics advances, advanced treatments for many conditions, such as cancer, are becoming available, but they are only contributing to a cost spiral that has already put affordable health coverage out of the reach of many Americans. And in the meantime, growing national health expenditures continue to pose a challenge not just to individuals’ pocketbooks, but to state treasuries, the federal government, and taxpayers. Health expenditures are crowding out spending on other critical areas such as education – leading to a vicious cycle that will probably deprive many Americans in coming years of optimal health.

What is to be done? How can the United States improve the health of its population; address the health crises afflicting so many; spread or equalize access to the best health care available; and maintain expenditures on health care within sustainable bounds? Achieving all of these outcomes may seem impossible, but there are important steps that the nation can take to get us on the right road. Susan Dentzer will
describe the issues and options available to us as a nation.

Political Economics
In this informative presentation, Susan Dentzer analyzes fiscal and budgetary problems facing the US, outlines current disputes, and explains whether or not they revolve around healthcare. While examining current battles between Congress and the White House, she offers both short-and long-term solutions, and explains what it all means for everyone - from consumers to associations and corporations.

The Future of Healthcare Policy
As an expert on healthcare policy, Susan Dentzer cuts through the rhetoric and examines the latest policy changes and explains what they mean for the future.

Other Suggested Programs:

  • Medicare for All: What would it mean? Would it work?
  • Health care politics and policy: Where is the nation in 2019? Where are we headed?
  • Revamping payment in U.S. Health Care: Are we succeeding? What are the results?
  • Transparency in Health Care Costs
  • Addressing the Social Determinants of Health: Communities that are leading the way
  • Hospitals and health systems as “Anchor Institutions” advancing health in their communities
  • A “21st Century Hill-Burton” plan: How to transform hospitals and health systems to advance health in communities

What People are Saying about Seeing Susan Speak

Rating Entries

    “Your insightful and thoughtful remarks and your candor responding to questions brought precisely the type of focus we hoped would transpire during the Conference morning session. The attendee evaluations of the Conference were uniform in their praise of your good work and that of fellow Panel members. Our constituents in the business community simply cannot ignore the imperative of health care reform communicated by your clear-headed thinking and the understated, yet forceful manner in which you chose to convey that message. You are a most gracious and kind person. I wish you best of luck going forward and I will keep Health Affairs on my short list of ′must read′ policy journals.”
    Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

    “Ms. Dentzer′s speech went very fine and the audience was very positive. From the first feedback, everybody found the speech extremely interesting. Some people also asked us how to invite Ms. Dentzer for some of their own conference!”
    Quebec International

    “[Susan was] a great fit for PCMA! It′s rare that an organization comes across a speaker that is both skilled in moderating a program and an expert in healthcare. We received rave reviews on her performance.”
    Pharmaceutical Care Management Assn.

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Books by Susan Dentzer:

Health Care Without Walls: A Roadmap for Reinventing U.S. Health Care

Imagine a health care system that anticipated individuals’ needs, worked to keep them healthy, and delivered as much care as possible to them in their homes, workplaces, and communities. Health Care Without Walls: A Roadmap for Reinventing U.S. Health Care embraces this vision of a more “distributed” health care system extending outside of traditional institutional settings – and that would be more convenient, accessible, and arguably less costly than what the United States has now. This vision is increasingly achievable, with the help of a revamped health care work force equipped with powerful technologies, starting with telehealth and remote monitoring, and ultimately embracing a range of new intelligent devices and systems.

Many of the neediest patients would benefit, as described in a series of scenarios embedded in the book. But multiple obstacles will need to be overcome first. Health Care Without Walls recommends specific changes in how health systems are paid and regulated, as well as in the work force and the way technologies are developed, to achieve this radical new vision. Health Care Without Walls resulted from the work of NEHI, the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization composed of members from across the health care system. It draws on the collective insights of more than 200 individuals who brainstormed for more than a year over how to bring this revamped vision of health care about.

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