Success Story of NYU Langone Health

Dr. William A. Haseltine, scientist, businessman, an expert in biotechnology and healthcare system development, discusses his upcoming book, “WORLD CLASS: A Story of Adversity, Transformation, and Success at NYU Langone Health (Fast Company Press; Feb. 12, 2019).  This book highlights the remarkable turnaround and success of NYU Langone Health.

William A. Haseltine, PhD, is the chair and president of the ACCESS Health International, a nonprofit organization he founded in 2007. ACCESS Health fosters innovative solutions to healthcare challenges in the United States and internationally. ACCESS Health works closely with public and private partners to improve access to high-quality and affordable healthcare by shifting health systems away from hospital centric care and toward integrated, and transparent information systems.  

Dr. Haseltine has an active career in both science and business. He was a professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health from 1976 to 1993, where he was a founder and the chair of two academic research departments, the Division of Biochemical Pharmacology and the Division of Human Retrovirology. He is the founder of Human Genome Sciences Inc., and severed as the chairman and CEO of the company until 2004. He is also the founder of several other successful biotechnology companies. He is well known for his pioneering work on cancer, HIV/AIDS, and genomics.


Neal Howard: Hello, I’m your host Neal Howard here on Health Professional Radio. Thank you for joining us here again, I’m glad that you’re here. Our guest is Dr. William Haseltine, he’s a scientist a businessman he’s also an expert in biotechnology and health system development and he’s joining us here on the program today to talk about his upcoming book, World Class: A Story of Adversity, Transformation, and Success at NYU Langone Health. Welcome to the program Doctor, thanks for taking the time.

Dr. William Haseltine: Thank you for your time.

Neal: Well a bit of background about yourself. I did say that you’re a scientist, a businessman and more. What’s your background and what are you involved in now?

Dr Haseltine: I was a professor at Harvard Medical School in the School of Public Health. We research on cancer and AIDS. During that time and later, I created a number of biotechnology companies. I served as the Chair and CEO of that company and together all the companies that I’ve created have brought about eight drugs to the market. They’re approved by the FDA for a number of different diseases. Over the last ten years, I’ve been focusing on improving access to high quality, affordable healthcare both in the United States and around the world. I’ve written a series of books which focus on best practices in healthcare systems around the world and … as well. The current book, World Class, focuses on the US healthcare system and how we can make it higher quality, more accessible, more patient … affordable.

Neal: Now this book, World Class: a story of adversity, transformation and success – they are lessons that were learned from a transformation at NYU is that correct?

Dr Haseltine: At NYU Langone, yes right.

Neal: Talk about why that transformation was needed.

Dr Haseltine: The transformation of NYU Langone was needed because it was losing a healthcare system, the patient care system, the hospitals and the medical school were losing enough money to bankrupt the entire institution, that is NYU University itself. It was really necessary to make a change. The change was made and this is a general lesson for all people in businesses, a turnaround story of how to use information to improve management. The original subtitle of the book actually was ‘Successful Management in the Information Age.’ Information transparency is absolutely important not only for management to know what’s happening but everybody in the organization, that horizontal transparency. Too often, one will not understand what another doctor doing the same service in the same hospital is doing, what their performance is. For example, if they’re doing a hip transplant – how many units of blood they’re using, what kind of infection rates they have, how many days the patient will stay in the hospital. Once you have a comprehensive information system, it’s real-time that allows vertical and horizontal transparency, you can really focus on what matters to the patient, what matters to the hospital and what the cost per outcome is and that’s really important in turning around any institution.

Neal: Would you say that Langone having been on top of the game and then dropping then being back on top of the game – are the same lessons applicable if you’ve been to the top and fallen as if you’re just starting out and having a hard time getting that success?

Dr Haseltine: I do, I think the lessons are clear. The first is how to create a culture, not a complacency but of aspiration. Any organization needs an aspirational culture. Let’s try to be the very best we can be. Let everybody else do what they can do but if we’re the best, we can compete with anybody. That’s four institutions which exist and institutions we’re being graded. The proper use of information capturing everything the institution does and holding everyone accountable for their performance based on … is another key lesson. It can be applied both to patient care and it can be applied to research and to teaching as well. I would say … it’s really important to understand that all these changes at NYU Langone were made or the benefit of the patient. How to make it more patient friendly, how to make it more accessible, how to make it less hassle for the patients. There are two key lessons I think to takeaway for anybody in the delivery of healthcare services. First of all, focus on day care and patient care rather than in hospital care. Safer, more …to the patient and it’s less expensive. That’s a very key lesson.

Neal: Where can our listeners go online and get some more information about you and about your upcoming book, ‘World Class?’

Dr Haseltine: There are several sources. First of all, the book is available in eBook and a hardcover book on Amazon. Secondly there is a website which is an author’s website and finally you can learn more about the foundation which I am now Chair of which is

Neal: Well I thank you for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you.

Dr Haseltine: Thank you.

Neal: You’ve been listening to health professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and

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