Wouldn’t it be great just to focus on one thing at a time? Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. In today’s world, hospitalists must give the best quality care while giving a great experience to their patients, all at an affordable cost. This concept of triple focus has given rise to a new term, “Triple Aim.”
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) developed the phrase—and the idea—in 2006. It symbolizes an understanding that all three areas of quality MUST be joined together to achieve true success for our patients. As physicians and hospitalists, we have been taught to focus on health as the cornerstone of our profession. We know about cost pressures, and we now appreciate how important patient experience is. The problem has been that we tend to bounce back and forth in addressing these, silo to silo, depending on the circumstance—JCAHO [Joint Council on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations] visit, publication of CMS core measures, Press-Ganey scores.
Payers and public data sites already have moved away from just reporting health measures. Experience is nearly as prominent in the discussion now. Affordability measures and transparent pricing are on the verge, especially as we arrive in a world with value-based purchasing and cost bundling.
It is easy to focus on just the crisis of the moment. Today, that might very well be the affordability crisis, but it’s important to understand that when delivering healthcare to real live human beings, with all their complexities and vulnerabilities, we have to tune in to our most creative selves to come up with solutions that don’t just address individual areas of care but that also integrate and synergize.
Into the Future
So why this long, five-column preamble into our history, our grand social movement? Because our society and specialty, even with almost 20 years under our belts, are still in the early days. Our members know this and stay connected and coordinated, either in person, at our annual meeting, or virtually using HMX, to better face the many challenges today and those coming down the road. When SHM surveyed its members last year about why they had attended the annual meeting, the overwhelming response was to “be part of the hospital medicine movement.”
Our specialty started out as a group of one-offs and experiments and then coalesced into a social movement, and although it has changed directions and gathered new areas of focus, we are charging ahead. Much social, cultural, and medical change is to come. It’s why our members have told us they keep coming back—to share in this great and glorious social movement called hospital medicine.
Dr. Kealey is SHM president and medical director of hospital specialties at HealthPartners Medical Group in St. Paul, Minn.