A prescription for the future of America’s health

It is an honor to lead the ACHP board of directors and our alliance of health plans and provider groups during one of the most challenging times for health care in U.S. history. Many industry analysts consider 2012 a watershed year in the evolution of our nation’s health care system.

I think most of us agree that the next two years promise to be similarly unprecedented and tumultuous. We continue to gear up for the implementation of health insurance exchanges in 2014, while facing the uncertainty resulting from millions of new enrollees entering the health care marketplace.

All of us are tasked with building the infrastructure and developing the products and pricing needed to operate in this new retail environment, while also continuing to strive toward achieving the Triple Aim of better health, better care and lower costs.

Health care in the U.S. is at a tipping point. Our current system is not meeting the needs of individuals or communities, and is in need of dramatic changes.

In the coming months on ACHP’s blog, I plan to share my thoughts and observations on some of the key actions needed to help us move forward as an industry and nation, including efforts to revitalize and grow primary care, implement payment reform, achieve greater alignment of the health system and enhance health information.

Today I want to focus on the need to improve the population’s health by creating a culture of health in communities across America. This requires collective action, strong partnerships, community engagement and innovative solutions.

Independent Health recently hosted the second in an ongoing series of programs we call “Conversations for a Healthier Tomorrow.” Business leaders and community influencers gathered to hear Bill Purcell, one of the country’s foremost experts on leading collaborative efforts in support of developing fit lifestyles and flourishing communities, discuss “Healthy Community, Wealthy Community: Tipping the Scales in Western New York’s Favor.”

Purcell most recently served as vice chair of the Committee on Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in Washington, D.C. The committee’s May 2012 report, “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation,” identifies more than 800 ways communities can work together to accelerate obesity prevention.

At Independent Health, we are committed to addressing the illness burden we bring upon ourselves as a result of unhealthy behaviors. We are working to accomplish this by providing individuals with the programs, services and resources to make better, more informed health choices, engaging employers to make access to health services more convenient for their employees and sponsoring a number of community-wide initiatives to improve the health and vitality of the entire community.

As Purcell underscored during his presentation, the most sustainable solutions to controlling runaway spending and improving the health of our nation start at the local level. As evidenced by the outstanding quality, service and  innovative solutions delivered by ACHP plans, we are in a unique position to lead the transformation of health care in our respective communities and serve as a model for the rest of the country.

I welcome your comments and ask you to please share examples of your successful efforts to mobilize change and create a culture of health in your community. Please write to ACHPCommunications@achp.org with any comments or ideas.

Michael Cropp, M.D.
President and CEO, Independent Health
2013-2014 Chair of ACHP Board of Directors