A step forward
Healthcare reform improves broken system
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.