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Becoming the Change Agent Your Healthcare System NeedsBy Dr. John Haughom
Becoming an Agent of Change Becoming an agent of change in healthcare is not easy. Working with clinicians and healthcare operational leaders across has exposed two trends. First, discussions dominated by a common theme — tight budgets and cost cutting. Second, many clinicians have become progressively cynical and disengaged, distancing themselves from healthcare reform debates.
Becoming an Agent of Change No doubt there is a need to control costs. But in this focus on cost cutting, are we forgetting the patient? Many countries are struggling with healthcare costs as a major part of the national budgets for most industrialized countries. Costs do need to be managed more effectively so it is not surprising that reforms are focused on controlling the growth of healthcare costs.
Healthcare Quality and Safety Issues Healthcare also faces quality and safety issues that are equally important to patients. In healthcare, the agents of change are the clinicians who provide patient care. Yet, they often lack the ability to actually measure the quality of care. As a result, they don’t always know what is best for the patient, nor can they learn because they don’t have quality and outcomes data.
Healthcare Quality and Safety Issues Clinicians are discovering that debating proven practices and using data to select the most successful processes are enhancing patient outcomes. Continuous improvement can be rewarding and fun. But requires data and a willingness to discover tested practices that work best. When clinicians work together, they can agree on what quality is and start measuring their performance.
Healthcare Quality and Safety Issues Using data and analysis to drive continuous improvement is exciting. If you look at the cost side of the equation, it turns out that those who focus on quality frequently have the lowest costs. Published studies based on Dr. Jack Wennberg’s data indicate that if all U.S. healthcare providers operated at the same level as the top 10 percent of performers, it would vastly improve care and lower Medicare costs by about 20 percent.
Healthcare Quality and Safety Issues The quality of U.S. healthcare for many diseases is actually below the average of other countries based on data from the international association Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. If the U.S. healthcare system focused more on raising quality just to the level of the average OECD data, it would improve care and save the American people $500 billion a year, representing approximately 20 percent of the annual U.S. healthcare budget.
Clinician Groups for Change Groups of innovative clinicians are forming, identifying evidence-based care practices, measuring outcomes, and continuously improving care for their patients. In the process, clinicians are asking key questions. Disease by disease, they are attacking the medical conditions that afflict humanity, and in the process improving the value of patient care. What is quality? What should we measure How can we continuously improve How can we achieve best outcomes?
Clinician Groups for Change Every time clinicians embarks on this quest, there is enormous energy in the room and the reform debate suddenly shifts to what matters most to both clinicians and patients: the value of care patients are receiving. In the future, healthcare delivery services will need to transform themselves in order to meet the quality, safety and cost challenges confronting healthcare. They will need to implement value and clinician engagement strategies to optimize clinical outcomes and provide care as efficiently as possible.
More about this topic The Difficulty of Change Dr. David A Burton, Former CEO and Executive Chairman Rising Healthcare Costs: Why We Have to Change Jared Crapo, Vice President What Healthcare Executives Can Learn from Military Decision Making Dale Sanders, Senior Vice President, Strategy For the New World of Healthcare, A Declaration of Independence Is Only the Beginning Dr. John Haughom, Senior Advisor Laying the Foundation for Sustainable Change and SuccessView on demand webinar, download slides, or read transcriptJohn Haughom, MD, Senior Advisor
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Other Clinical Quality Improvement Resources Click to read additional information at www.healthcatalyst.com John Haughom, MD is an experienced healthcare executive with proven expertise in technology-enabled innovation, developing results-oriented strategic plans, leading multifaceted organization-wide change, and directing complex operations. He has a strong record of turning vision into effective strategies and successfully implementing initiatives resulting in value including higher quality, safer care at the lowest possible cost. His broad knowledge of healthcare and emerging healthcare technologies is coupled with his recognized leadership abilities, strong communication skills, and demonstrated ability to contribute to organizational goals such as improved clinical outcomes, lower costs, improved access to care, and increased profitability. After practicing for 15 years as an internist and gastroenterologist, Dr. Haughom assumed a senior executive role with responsibilities for system-wide automation, budgeting, customer support, database administration, healthcare delivery, information technology, quality control, research, safety, and strategic planning. Dr. Haughom became President and CEO of a firm focused on health care transformation through consulting, strategic planning, mentoring inexperienced physician leaders, involvement in regional and national reform movements, membership on boards of leading edge organizations committed to improving the value of healthcare, and partnership with other like-minded organizations with similar aspirations and goals. As Senior Vice President of Clinical Quality and Patient Safety for the premiere health care system in the Northwest spanning three states (Oregon, Washington and Alaska), Dr. Haughom developed and implemented a system-wide quality improvement strategy, comprehensive patient safety plan, and comprehensive system-wide information technology strategy.