In a speech delivered at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Forum 0n Dec. 7, 2011, Dr. Donald Berwick, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and former president and CEO of IHI, issued a powerful challenge to the health care community. He said, “If improvement [of the American health care system] is the plan, then we own the plan. Government can’t do it. Payers can’t do it. Regulators can’t do it. Only the people who give the care can improve the care.”
We are those people.
Only we can improve health care processes — because we create, manage and use them; we know what works and what doesn’t.
Only we can improve the quality and safety of care — because we are the people defining and delivering that care. More than anyone else, we see where there is unnecessary duplication, vulnerability for medical errors and barriers that reduce efficiency and effectiveness of care.
Only we can move the nation toward a patient-centric health care system — because unlike politicians, policy makers and others, we interact with patients and their families each and every day; nobody is better positioned to witness, understand and act on their experiences and suggestions.
All of this, done in parallel, will reduce costs, improve care and promote health equity.
In this New Year, as we continue to navigate a tumultuous economy and a historic time in the history of health care practice and policy in the United States, I ask you to consider Dr. Berwick’s words.
This isn’t about politics. It’s about patients. It’s about medicine and science. It’s about you, me, your colleagues, your neighbors and your families. And, ultimately, it’s the reason we are here.
Let’s commit this year more than ever to show the nation why Michigan is leaders and best in health care, to create the future of health care through discovery and to leave a maize and blue mark on the history of health care innovation and improvement. And let’s do it because we know that it is the right thing to do.
We all have a voice and we all have a choice in how we use our voices. I invite you to share your voice, your thoughts and your ideas on improving health care here, on my new website, Medicine That Speaks, which I created to be a forum for ideas and conversations about taking health care to a better place.
What have you done on your unit or in your department to improve processes, care and the patient and family experience?
Where do you see opportunity?
What do you think of Dr. Berwick’s challenge?