Curing What Ails the Healthcare System: Shared Responsibility

Recently, I’ve written about how cost-cutting alone will not keep healthcare organizations in the black. We’ve heard it from analysts, and recently, article in HealthLeaders, we heard it from Otis Brawley, MD, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

In the article, Dr. Brawley cites staggering statistics about how much we spend, and will continue to spend, on healthcare and lays out what he thinks is a solution: promoting shared responsibility. And that means everyone: doctors, healthcare systems, insurers, drug companies, lawyers, patients, etc.

The HealthLeaders article includes insights from other healthcare leaders including Lorie Fiber, VP of corporate communications at Castlight Health. Ms. Fiber points out that the changing dynamics and growing transparency related to the costs and quality of healthcare has lead to more engagement and accountability, among everyone, which should ultimately translate into a far more effective disbursement of the huge sums of money spent annually on healthcare.

Ruth Krystopolski, president of Sanford Health Plan and executive VP of care innovation at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, SD, declares that altering the mindset of patients and providers will be critical to any fundamental reform effort. Under the ACA, we’ve seen the payment landscape for providers shift dramatically. And now patients are being asked to do their part, through wellness programs and other incentives. Those who insist on clinging to unhealthy habits such as smoking can be charged more for their health insurance. As Krystopolski notes, “We’ve had this idea that if something’s broken, you can just fix it. You can take a pill.”

In today’s healthcare industry, a mere pill won’t cure what ails us. It is the responsibility of us all to contribute to turning our system into one that is more efficient, less costly and that produces better health outcomes. We’ve learned that we can’t spend our way to health, nor can we cost-cut our way to success. As we gain greater transparency into how the system works, we can all work together to make improvements across the board, sharing the responsibility for preventing illness through wellness programs, and by preventing spiraling costs through greater efficiency and transparency.

As Ms. Krystopolski concluded, “Prevention is everybody’s responsibility.” Let’s share that responsibility.

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