Health Leadership, Innovation, and Organizations (HELIO) Labs

Transforming healthcare through research, education, and outreach initiatives

Welcome to the Health Leadership, Innovation, and Organizations (HELIO) Labs home page. HELIO labs recognizes the need for more and better research, education, and outreach on leadership, institutional culture, organization and system design, and team dynamics to solve problems and enable leaders and policymakers to improve health care delivery and population health.

Organizations that deliver health and health care benefit from organizational approaches that promote evidence-based leadership; learning, systems, and team-oriented environments in which to deliver health services; organizational and operational approaches that optimize care delivery; and systems engineering to inspire disciplined problem analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of innovations.

To address these issues, the lab fosters interdisciplinary collaboration among colleagues from across the University, including Stanford Health Care and the Schools of Medicine, Business, Engineering, Design, Sustainability, Law, and Humanities and Sciences, and across the globe.

Dr. Sara Singer’s Research Philosophy

Having grown up in hospitals and doctors’ offices with a surgeon father, Dr. Sara Singer knew the world of health care well from an early age. Her MBA at Stanford led her on a decade-long path of impacting health policy at key organizations in Washington and California, including the founding and directing of Stanford’s own Freeman Spogli Institute’s Center for Health Policy as a member of the co-founding team, led by physician and health economist Alan Garber, and as the first Executive Director. Wanting to spur changes in the healthcare system through more than just policy, Dr. Singer then pursued a PhD at Harvard in health management and organizational behavior, influenced by a need to understand the ways in which organizational behavior and management practices influence quality and innovation in health and health care delivery. She now studies teams and organizations to determine how leaders and policymakers can make changes in leadership, institutional culture, and interpersonal interactions to improve health care delivery and make health care safer, higher-quality, and more equitable and affordable.

Drawing on years of research focused on the role of organizational culture in patient safety and medical errors, Dr. Singer believes strongly that if we want to make gains in health, we need all sectors engaged and collaborating to address population social needs. Her research program is built around ensuring patient safety despite enormous complexity and uncertainty in diagnosis, treatment, and disease progression; integrating increasingly fragmented services and multiple service providers; implementing, adapting, and sustaining technological innovations that enhance the value of health care; and creating a culture of health and well-being among sectors not traditionally considered part of the health ecosystem.

Because of her pioneering work in applying organizational theory to health care, Dr. Singer is a recognized expert on the culture of safety, integrated care, innovation implementation, and culture of health. Her research has resulted in increased acceptance of cultural solutions as an essential element of initiatives to enhance safety and quality in health care, enhanced recognition of the patient’s role in achieving care integration, and the improved capability of businesses to embrace their potential for positively impacting health and well-being of their employees, consumers, communities, and the environment.