A step for­ward

Health­care re­form im­proves bro­ken sys­tem

Modern Healthcare - - Opinions Commentary - Joseph Swedish Pres­i­dent and CEO Trin­ity Health Novi, Mich.

Two years ago, I took to these pages call­ing upon Amer­ica’s health­care lead­ers to carpe diem by seiz­ing the op­por­tu­nity to make his­tory and pi­o­neer a path to change through health­care re­form. Hos­pi­tal lead­ers, work­ing through trade as­so­ci­a­tions and as in­di­vid­u­als, rose to the oc­ca­sion, em­brac­ing our re­spon­si­bil­ity to shape the fu­ture of health­care. Our ef­forts paid off for 32 mil­lion unin­sured Amer­i­cans who will have ac­cess to af­ford­able health­care cov­er­age and count­less oth­ers who can no longer be de­nied cov­er­age for pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions.

While we all rec­og­nize that the re­cently passed leg­is­la­tion is not per­fect, it does go a long way to­ward phas­ing in many of the es­sen­tial el­e­ments Trin­ity Health and oth­ers na­tion­wide had been ad­vo­cat­ing—high-qual­ity, af­ford­able health cov­er­age that is de­liv­ered through a co­or­di­nated, cost-ef­fec­tive sys­tem of care. Re­form im­proves a bro­ken sys­tem by ex­pand­ing cover- age, stop­ping the prac­tice of can­cel­ing poli­cies re­lated to ill­ness, cap­ping out-of-pocket costs for con­sumers and end­ing the an­nual and life­time dol­lar lim­its on cov­er­age. We are un­doubt­edly at the be­gin­ning of a new era in which mil­lions of Amer­i­cans have the peace of mind that comes from know­ing that get­ting sick will not au­to­mat­i­cally lead to fi­nan­cial ruin.

Now that we have achieved this re­form mile­stone, our chal­lenge, as lead­ers, will be to seize this new moment and carry out what we have been ad­vo­cat­ing. We must take re­form to the next level, from pos­si­bil­ity to re­al­ity—truly chang­ing the in­dus­try from in­side out.

There’s no ques­tion the work ahead is Her­culean. We must pur­sue in­te­gra­tion and ac­cept that pay­ment will be tied to demon­stra­ble value. We must also trans­form to adapt to the med­i­cal model shift to pri­mary care and the grow­ing con­sumerism that will drive trans­parency of in­for­ma­tion. If we can proac­tively ad­dress these trends, this is in­deed a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for those who want to fun­da­men­tally change health­care from the in­side out. We can­not af­ford to wait for re­form to change us. Even though the rules for health­care re­form are still be­ing shaped and some will not be im­ple­mented for sev­eral years, the over­all di­rec­tion we should all be work­ing to­ward is clear—high-qual­ity, cost­ef­fec­tive, co­or­di­nated care.

As lead­ers, we must po­si­tion our or­ga­ni­za­tions to suc­ceed amid the am­bi­gu­ity and dis­rup­tion we will face in the short-term as re­form rules are put in place. As busi­ness man­age­ment writer Tom Peters ex­plains, “the win­ners of to­mor­row will deal proac­tively with chaos, will look at the chaos per se as the source of mar­ket ad­van­tage, not as a prob­lem to be got around.” The win­ners will be those who can man­age through the tran­si­tion with clar­ity and pur­pose us­ing high-qual­ity, cost ef­fec­tive, co­or­di­nated care as the end goal, and ac­cept­ing ac­count­abil­ity for the out­come.

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