Newly minted SHM President Burke Kealey, MD, SFHM, has a goal that is a bit more abstract: He wants hospitalists to look at improving healthcare affordability, patient health, and the patient experience—as a single goal.
“We put the energy and the effort of the moment behind the squeaky wheel,” said Dr. Kealey, medical director of hospital specialties at HealthPartners Medical Group in St. Paul, Minn. “What I would like us to do is all start thinking about all three at the same time, and with equal weight at all times. To me, this is the next evolution of the hospitalist.”
Dr. Kealey’s tack for his one-year term is borrowed from the Institute of Healthcare Improvement, whose “triple aim” initiative has the same goals. But Dr. Kealey believes that focusing on any of the three areas while giving short shrift to the others misses the point of bettering the overall healthcare system.
“To improve health, but then people can’t afford that healthcare, is a nonstarter,” he said. “To make things finally affordable, but then people stay away because it’s a bad experience, makes no sense, either. We must do it all together.”
“What I would like us to do is all start thinking about all three at the same time, and with equal weight at all times. To me, this is the next evolution of the hospitalist.”
And hospitalists are in the perfect position to do it, said Dr. Morrison, a founding partner of Strategic Health Perspectives, a forecasting service for the healthcare industry that includes joint venture partners Harris Interactive and the Harvard School of Public Health’s department of health policy and management. He sees hospitalist leaders as change agents, as the rigmarole of healthcare reform shakes out over the next few years.
Dr. Morrison, a native of Scotland whose delivery was half stand-up comic, half policy wonk (he introduced himself as Dr. Wachter’s Scottish caddy), said that while politicians and pundits dicker over how a generational shift in policies will be implemented, hospitalists will be the ones balancing that change with patients’ needs.
“This is the work of the future,” he said, “and it is not policy wonk work; it is clinical work. It is about the transformation of the delivery system. That is the central challenge of the future.
“We’ve got to integrate across the continuum of care, using all the innovation that both public and private sectors can deliver. This is not going to be determined by CMS, in my view, but by the kind of innovation that America is always good at.”