A Theory - I have a theory on the essential elements to creating the healthcare delivery system that we should have. It struck me recently that there are three elements that are required to get us there. Now they aren’t necessarily simple things, in fact, they are quite broad categories, but they seem to encapsulate, for me, the forces needed to accomplish this task.
The first element is the never-ending struggle for improvement. Complacency is one of the silent killers in healthcare. When we accept the status quo, convince ourselves that “we provide good care”, or just don’t know what to do next, then we will never move beyond the level of care provided today. This is a hard element because it asks everyone involved in the care process to question their own performance. There is always an opportunity to improve outcomes, reduce variability, share more information, and communicate more effectively.
The second element is technology. As I enter the world of healthcare technology, I am becoming more convinced that we need the tools of technology in order to provide safe and coordinated care. Over the next decade, there will be billions of dollars spent on healthcare IT, and, yet, the biggest hurdle to realizing technology’s potential to improve care is the re-imagination (I am borrowing that from the Toyota Avalon commercial) of the very way care givers provide care.
The third element is a commitment to make the system work for everyone. This one is a great challenge. It is easy (relatively) to build a system that is profitable. The challenge is to remember that there is an additional end to strive towards. To remember that after the business model works, we have to make it work for those who lack access.
I know that theories aren’t much use to people. A theory isn’t a proven fact. It may not solve anyone else’s problems. But, for me, it is a hunch; recurring themes that seem to pop up every time I read an article about the industry, come across a new idea, or wrestle with the big issues of healthcare. In this new year, and with my new role, I imagine that I will be writing more about these elements. I have to see if my theory is correct.