I have long said that health care reform is local. That if we’re going to stem the tide of rising health care costs, provide coverage to the uninsured and help small and large business owners thrive in a post-recession era, the solutions are not going to come from politicians in Washington.
New York’s Capital Region recently took a step in the right direction when nearly a 1,000 people packed a theatre in Albany, N.Y., to hear local leaders talk about practical solutions to health care reform. From hospital executives to primary care physicians, academic leaders to students, politicians to business owners, they came out in droves to tackle one of the greatest social and economic issues of our time.
The event featured a keynote speech from New York Times bestselling author, Atul Gawande, M.D., a surgeon and Harvard professor known worldwide as one of the most influential voices in health care. The keynote was followed by a frank discussion on health care quality by a group of panelists comprising leaders in health care, higher education and business.
As panel moderator I asked the group, “What should we be doing as a community to improve the quality of health care in this region?” After all, if we’re going to spend nearly $3 trillion a year on health care, we ought to be a healthier nation.
The panelists’ answers pointed me to two common themes: collaboration and sharing of information. The Capital Region is a gold mine rich with universities, hospital systems, business leaders and state government. If we’re going to achieve meaningful health care reform, we must capitalize on these resources, stop working in silos and bring the business owners who are paying the bills to the table.
The forum ended with a call to action, inviting the panelists to join me in the creation of a health care consortium with the goal of achieving the “Triple Aim” of better health, better care and lower costs. While this most recent event focused on health care quality, most people would agree that cost and access are also central to the discussion.
As we move forward, words need to become action, and we must work together on all levels – local, state and national – to bring about real change. I invite the community to join me on this journey now and in the future!
–John D. Bennett, M.D.
President and CEO
Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, Inc. (CDPHP)