"It is short-sighted to view innovation through a purely economic lens. In most sectors, including health care, innovation's action as an accelerator for societal growth is significant."
Every business knows today if you can't innovate you won't be around long.
Innovation, driven by an avalanche of disruptive forces such as the internet, big data analytics and new manufacturing methods, is happening at a breath-taking speed that just gets faster every day.
It is short-sighted to view innovation through a purely economic lens. In most sectors, including health care, innovation's action as an accelerator for societal growth is significant.
John Rice, Vice Chairman of GE, points out, "Whether continuously developing and investing in products and solutions that bring quality affordable health care to the under-served, teaming with key industry partners to address significant global health access issues, or, finding ways to quickly commercialize ideas via start-ups, business has long understood that innovation and partnership are key to advancing health globally."
Through his work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in his role at GE, he speaks of being exposed to the unbelievable toll disease can take on populations around the globe, "Consider the impact that cardiovascular disease has in the U.S. where it is the number one killer and causes one in every three deaths."
In addition to the tragic impact this has on families, workplaces and communities, according to the American Heart Association and CDC, annual direct medical costs associated with just cardiovascular diseases are projected to rise to more than $800 billion by 2030, while lost productivity costs could exceed $275 billion. What do these figures look like if you were to add in other prevalent diseases like diabetes?
Beyond the impact felt here in the US, in developing markets, the rise of non-communicable diseases like heart disease is taxing already strained healthcare systems and putting large populations at risk. In today's global economy and global culture, we're all connected -- we're all impacted.
Rice emphasizes how innovative partnerships can help solve such widespread public health and economic challenges, "Leveraging the combined strengths of the public and private sectors and uniting various organizations around shared purpose can help increase access to care, reduce costs and deliver innovative health-care solutions in more places."
Beyond advocating for these partnerships, what can you do within your own company? Rice says, "Business can also play a significant role in partnering to help employees lead healthier lives. Workplace partnerships between employers, employees, families and health-care providers reinforce the link between health, productivity and better lives."
Rice highlights two of these successful partnerships:
-Million Hearts, a five-year national US initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it aligns existing efforts and creates new programs. The CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, co-leaders of Million Hearts within HHS, are working alongside other federal agencies and private-sector organizations like the GE Foundation to make a long-lasting impact against cardiovascular disease.
-Keep Your Heart Healthy - a partnership in Chicago of GE, other companies, organizations and local government to identify local residents most at risk for developing heart disease. This program helps residents gain access to health screening services, and connects them with primary care when appropriate. Last year, nearly 11,000 at-risk people were screened, many of whom would not have received care otherwise.
We would like to suggest that business-healthcare partnerships are not only important regarding innovation, but could play an important part in the "value agenda" Michael Porter and Dr Thomas Lee propose for fixing the healthcare status quo in their Harvard Business Review article.
Healthcare decision makers must also be seeing the writing on the wall -- any attempt to continue business as usual at this juncture will mean their demise as well. They are hearing it from all sides - Obamacare, employers and patients.
No matter how the advocates of single-payer systems try to say otherwise, the US healthcare struggles are echoed around the world. We're all facing rising costs and uneven quality despite the efforts of well-intentioned, well-trained practitioners. Porter and Lee point out that, "Health care leaders and policy makers have tried countless incremental fixes—attacking fraud, reducing errors, enforcing practice guidelines, making patients better “consumers,” implementing electronic medical records—but none have had much impact."
We agree that not only do businesses need to have their eye on healthcare innovation partnerships as a way forward, but also need to be partners in creating a fundamentally new comprehensive strategy to what healthcare currently is.
Porter and Lee say, "At its core is maximizing value for patients: that is, achieving the best outcomes at the lowest cost. We must move away from a supply-driven health care system organized around what physicians do and toward a patient-centered system organized around what patients need. We must shift the focus from the volume and profitability of services provided—physician visits, hospitalizations, procedures, and tests—to the patient outcomes achieved. And we must replace today’s fragmented system, in which every local provider offers a full range of services, with a system in which services for particular medical conditions are concentrated in health-delivery organizations and in the right locations to deliver high-value care."
This "value agenda" concept was introduced as far back as 2006 by Porter and Elizabeth Teisberg in their book Redefining Health Care. Since then, their research with thousands of health care leaders and academics around the world has yielded the tools for implementation -- and deployment by providers and other organizations is already rapidly spreading, with some early successes such as the Cleveland Clinic and Germany’s Schön Klinik, who have undertaken large-scale changes involving multiple components of the value agenda, realizing striking improvements in outcomes and efficiency, and growth in market share.
It seems to us like this is actually taking healthcare back to business 101. It seems like this "value agenda" is what you as a thriving company already know about how to make your customer (and hopefully your employees) the focus of your successful business. Healthcare in the US, and possibly elsewhere in the world, somehow skipped this class, which is like trying to run before you learn to walk.
This is what you can share, this is what you have to contribute towards moving healthcare forward, to moving healthcare towards operating like you do -- as a healthy, self-sufficient, cost-effective positive on our economic, and social ledger.
The power of we at work.
It is time for all of us to look in the mirror. How is your company contributing your expertise towards a better global health care future for us all?
How to Tackle Big Health-Care Issues
John Rice, vice chairman of GE
The Strategy That Will Fix Health Care
by Michale E Porter and Thomas H Lee MD
"We must move away from a supply-driven health care system organized around what physicians do and toward a patient-centered system organized around what patients need."
Rylan Klaseen & Associates
Rylan Klaseen & Associates
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