Local health care executives, from left, Joe Steier, Signature HealthCARE; Ken Marshall, University of Louisville Hospital; Mark Vogt, Galen College of Nursing; and Phil Marshall, Hosparus Health; listen to Louisville Health Care CEO Council CEO Tammy York Day, Thursday at a panel discussion. | Courtesy Health Enterprises Network

Four health care CEOs in Louisville urged the community to become more accepting of risk takers — and their failures — because they will drive innovation, which will be critical to solving the nation’s health care problems.

Too often, they said, the community, including venture capitalists, give local entrepreneurs one shot — and if they fail, they’re done, which is exactly the wrong attitude if you’re trying to foster innovation.

Ken Marshall

“The concept of failure is so important … it is so vitally important in how you handle it,” said Ken Marshall, president and CEO of University of Louisville Hospital.

How people learn from something that didn’t work is much more important than if they experience only success, he said.

Joe Steier, president and CEO of Signature HealthCARE, agreed, saying the Louisville community must change its attitude about failure and risk-takers.

Marshall and Steier made the comments Thursday afternoon in a panel discussion at Converge Louisville, a conference hosted by the Health Enterprises Network.

Joe Steier

Steier suggested the community’s private sector work together with the state and city to set up a $50 million venture capital fund to provide dollars for startups to foster innovative solutions to current and future challenges.

Steier and Marshall are among 11 local CEOs of health care organizations who took the innovative step last year to form the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council to foster collaboration, lure talent and to turn Louisville into the national capital for aging innovation.

Collaboration, too, will play an ever more important role, as stakeholders share ideas and use limited resources to work together on common problems in an industry as dynamic as health care.

Phil Marshall

The need for collaboration helps explain why the CEOs got together to form the council, said Phil Marshall, president and CEO of Hosparus Health, who also participated in the panel.

“Some of us didn’t even know one another,” he said. “And that’s telling.”

Steier said collaboration generally produces better results — and at a lower cost — than if each of the partners embarked on solutions on their own.

For example, he said, rather than each organization investing in a telemedicine pilot, the partners can get together, choose the best idea — or even combine ideas — and generate more robust results.

Mark Vogt

Mark Vogt, president and CEO of Galen College of Nursing, agreed, saying that many organizations, from health care education to the delivery of end-of-life care, face similar challenges and can benefit from collaboration, especially from sharing data.

Innovation also is critical in education, he said.

“If you’re not innovating, by the time you graduate, you’re behind,” said Vogt, a panelist and also a member of the council.

Phil Marshall said that the local concentration of aging care companies, combined with academic institutions, will play critical roles in tackling the existing and coming challenges, which include shortages of nurses and doctors, especially in geriatrics, as the population continues to age.

Marshall also said that demographic trends mean that employers increasingly are dealing with employees who are exhausted and stressed from taking care of ailing loved ones, and more people leaving their jobs to become caregivers.

“This is a huge issue for our society,” he said.