Depending on which headlines you read, as a country either we are moving forward toward a new and improved era in health care, or we are on the brink of widening the chasm between effective health outcomes and financial sustainability. Numerous articles and books describe solutions, and countless blogs, tweets, and posts argue the merits of one over the other. Regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, one thing is for certain—it can no longer be business as usual.
The right care—at the right time, in the right place, delivered by the right level of practitioner—is now the underlying meme permeating discussions at every corner of health care. Health plans, medical groups, hospital systems, retail pharmacies, and liability carriers are all working collaboratively to define a new model. And in some areas of the country, early adopters are already seeing dramatic results (Advocate Health in Chicago is the current poster child for clinically integrated networks posting enviable cost and health outcome improvements).
Even with new and effective models being realized, the challenge before us all may not be one of ideas, but of implementation. Inherent in any successful change management effort is building up enough critical momentum where the initiative takes on its own self-sustaining energy. And to achieve that level of momentum, significant investments in time, energy, money—along with consumer adoption—will need to take place.
But all is not doom and gloom, as some headlines would have you believe. Renowned business guru Peter Drucker once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” From where I sit, I see many opportunities for small and big steps forward. I see a health care environment ripe for innovation and many professionals rolling up their sleeves to make it happen. And I think that business not as usual is the right perspective to have as we create the health care system of the future.