'We cannot afford the status quo': What systems aren't talking about enough

Leaders across healthcare are working to improve their system in a variety of ways, but some parts of care and delivery are being overlooked, leaders told Becker's.

Here, seven leaders talk about the one part of healthcare that systems aren't talking about enough:

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length. 

David Callender, MD. CEO and President of Memorial Hermann Health System (Houston): Much of the discussion in healthcare circles about value is narrowly focused on lowest cost per service and on pay-for-performance models. Value is not a race to the bottom to get the lowest price for a particular procedure or service. Value also is not just pay-for-performance. Pay-for-performance, or pay-for-outcomes, models are an element of a value strategy, but they are not the whole strategy. What we lose in these narrow conversations is a broader focus on how hospitals and health systems, employers, providers and payers can work together to create value for patients, communities and the entire healthcare system. The goal is healthier individuals and communities achieved at a sustainable cost with the most advanced resources and highly trained care teams. 

Monique Gary, DO. Medical Director, Cancer Program and Director, Breast Program, at Grand View Health (Sellersville, Pa.): We should be talking about how to formalize the framework for a "whole-person health" and a personalized approach to wellness. While knowledge is power, we need to act on the data and this knowledge so that "wellness" is no longer just a buzzword or a mindset, and that the actions to achieve wellness are clearly defined, personalized, accessible, and integrated into all that we do.

Doug Lawson, PhD. President of South Region of CommonSpirit Health (Chicago): We have to talk more about how health systems must transition to a more collaborative model to improve care delivery and provide all people access to high-value care, especially when it comes to the most vulnerable in our communities. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us all to adapt quickly and develop innovative solutions to meet the needs of a public health emergency. That mindset must continue as we explore more sustainable healthcare delivery models to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving landscape. We can not afford the status quo. 

Pete November. CEO, Ochsner Health (New Orleans): Our commitment to the community goes beyond providing high-quality healthcare. Our neighbors depend on us to provide jobs and career paths, train the next generation of clinicians, bring services to underserved areas, provide funding for primary care services for the homeless, help improve education and mentor our youth, and address significant health equity concerns like maternal mortality rates. Making an impact in our community, beyond healthcare, is a core part of our mission. Ochsner Health is focused on being a leader in our community and is driven by a commitment to making Louisiana and the Gulf South a place where we can all grow and thrive.

Tamra Minnier, MSN, RN. Chief Quality and Operational Excellence Officer at UPMC (Pittsburgh): Front-line managers and supervisors are a critical part of the future of healthcare yet are often overlooked by executive leaders. The responsibility of staff engagement is squarely on the shoulders of front-line leaders, and I don't think we talk about that enough. Nor do we talk about the leadership knowledge that has been lost through the frequent leadership changes across healthcare. Yet we know if we're going to deliver the highest quality of care and best outcomes, we need to see our staff turnover begin to settle down. The front-line leaders, managers and supervisors need to become a focus of our intention as senior leaders.

Dino Prato, NMD. Founder and CEO of Envita Medical Centers (Scottsdale, Ariz.): Outcome-driven care is the need of the hour, but unfortunately no one is addressing the elephant in the room. No one is talking about how to fix the broken healthcare system and provide patients with what they want, access to personalized medicine to help optimize responses.

When one-size-fits-all protocols are implemented without adequate customizations to treat the root causative factors of each patient's disease, then there are high chances of disease relapse, which not only impacts longevity and quality of life but also increases healthcare spending. For example, cancer is now the top driver of employer healthcare costs, and projections indicate that cancer care costs will increase to $246 billion by 2030 in the United States, based only on population growth. 

To reduce these costs and enhance patient outcomes, it is crucial to break free of one-size-fits-all treatment protocols and follow a precision-targeted care approach, but unfortunately, health insurance companies are slow to adapt to these latest developments in the area of precision oncology. A precision-targeted approach, which includes the latest diagnostics, personalized medicines, and advanced AI-backed customized preventive care plans, may yield life-changing results for not just cancer patients, but for patients with all other chronic, debilitating or lifestyle diseases.

Julie Staub. Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Jackson Health System (Miami): Many health systems are undergoing significant changes, requiring leaders and employees to shift the way they think, work, and behave. Organizational change will not happen without individual change. Leadership must invest in skill-building and training opportunities to promote transformational changes in a structured, thoughtful way. This will support individuals in shifting their mindsets to improve how they work and meet organizational goals. This is the secret sauce for adoption, and ultimately, the sustainability needed for positive transformation in any organization.

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