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Thirty Events That Really Did Very Little to Change Health Care’s World

Paul Levy 1It was with some dismay that I read Modern Healthcare’s article called, “The 30 events that rocked healthcare’s world in 2015.” I jumped into the piece, confident that I would, indeed, find some developments that have made a difference in the quality and safety of patient care, that would introduce transparency, and that would encourage a greater partnership between clinicians and patients and families.

What I found instead was a version of The Nightly Business Report–a series of stories mainly about the corporate and financial interests of pharma, insurance companies, big hospitals, and big government. These stories have nothing to do with what actually happens on the floors and units of America’s hospitals or in the offices of local physician practices. There is nothing in the stories that is motivational to the doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals who have devoted their lives to taking care of us. There is nothing in the stories that presents an empathetic view of what happens to us when we interact with the health care system as patients or families.

More importantly, there is nothing in the stories about the things that have really moved aspects of the health care world, like cooperation among over 80 pediatric hospitals expanding from Ohio and moving nationwide that slowly and sustainability improve the quality and safety of care. Or like the campaign that leads to a persistent growth in knowledge about diagnosing and treating sepsis. Or the expansion of the Lean philosophy through more places, improving the quality of the workplace and the delivery of care. Or the systematic engagement of patients and caregivers in learning from one another.

Oh, I know these things are boring compared to the transfer of billions of dollars among multi-billion-dollar entities. But those entities, mainly cost structures in search of revenue streams, are not where the action occurs. It occurs on the ground, where clinical, admininstrative, and governance leaders make a constant commitment to improvement, are modest about what they know, and are not afraid to experiment for the public good.

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