Meet Robert Lorenz, MD, of the Head & Neck Institute

A brief Q&A

Robert Lorenz, MD, MBA, FACS, is a surgeon in the Head and Neck Surgery Section of the Head & Neck Institute. He also currently serves as the Medical Director of Payment Reform, Risk & Contracting for the Cleveland Clinic health system. From 2008 to 2011, Dr. Lorenz served as the Chief Medical Officer of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD).

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When a friend recently asked Dr. Lorenz if he would support the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center benefit concert, his answer was yes. “I thought they meant come and attend the concert,” says Dr. Lorenz. Little did he realize that he would be one of the participants on stage for the organization’s spring fundraiser, Sing Out!

Is this your first time singing publically?

No, but I haven’t done so since high school, as Daddy Warbucks in Annie. Luckily, the participants practice for a month beforehand, so I’ve renewed my love for singing. As an ENT surgeon with many voice-disorder patients, it’s given me a whole new appreciation of what professional voice users go through to prepare for a performance.

Why is it important to you to support the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center?

I really became more interested in supporting the community of Cleveland through the promotion of the United Way at work; it opened my eyes to all the need around us. I was familiar with Cleveland Clinic’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. We have more than 60 certified nurses at Cleveland Clinic’s Akron, Hillcrest and Fairview hospitals who have gone through the training, and it is a tremendous community benefit. Performing at the Sing Out benefit is the least I could do compared to the work of our dedicated nurses.

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Outside of clinical care, where else are you working to make an impact?

Half of my free time is spent doing policy work. I believe strongly that the total cost of healthcare is too expensive for what the public gets out of it. My policy work on the state and federal levels is geared towards demonstrating the value of what we do, and aligning cost with outcomes.

You are the physician champion for our Problem List Adoption Initiative. What can you tell us about this work?

The Problem List in the electronic medical record is our go-to source for rapid communication of all the patient’s problems. The Problem List work [started in 2016] is consistent with my policy work – without describing how sick our patients are, we’ll never get our Cleveland Clinic outcomes calculated accurately. I’m passionate about the Problem List, because I’m passionate about Cleveland Clinic succeeding in the new world of paying for healthcare value instead of healthcare volume.

Anything else you would like to add?

My wife and I started our family later in life, so we had more time to think about family activities that our kids would enjoy. Kids like to be outside, and they especially like sugar. So we’ve been spending our winters making maple syrup and our summers making honey. It’s tremendous fun, and we sing with the kids, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!”

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