The American healthcare system is more fractured and “tribal” than ever before, even in today’s modern age. Even the recent healthcare reform enacted by the federal government, controversial as it is, isn’t enough to truly reform the current state of the healthcare industry which sees so many disparate groups of care givers, patients, insurance companies, and facilities locked in a “cold war” with each other, usually over the level of fees.
This Cold War is unlike any other, because the combatants work together on a daily basis and make decisions that affect each other every day. It would be difficult for warring factions, even those hiding behind business-like agreements and procedures, can deliver quality, efficient and affordable healthcare.
Thawing the Cold War
Move beyond this Cold War mentality of each of the combatants is one of the keys to truly reforming healthcare in this country. We need to have the “buy-in” from all of the participants in order for any reform to take root and yield results. What we saw with recent healthcare reform is what happens when you don’t get this “buy-in” – many of the players, including patients, doctors and insurers, felt like the reform was forced upon them. It could be argued that because agreement was nearly impossible, it had to happen that way. And mind you, Obamacare, was not true healthcare reform. It was governmentally imposed health insurance reform.
Something which is “nearly” impossible is not, however, impossible. What’s needed is a two-step process facilitated by a neutral who can bring experience and knowledge to bear:
1. Making the different parties realize that they all want the same end goal – a reformed and better-functioning healthcare system in which people get better care – it’s only in the path taken to that goal that they differ.
2. Building on that epiphany and suggesting practical ways that different “paths” can be combined to create a blueprint for true healthcare reform that’s both effective and acceptable to the widest possible group of stakeholders.
The risk-averse nature of most healthcare CEOs and other leaders in the industry is still the biggest challenge. Therefore, the biggest hurdle for any reform initiative to overcome is getting people to accept risks.
Healthcare is at a crossroads. We need to begin the process of true reform now, if we wish to avoid a future where only the super-wealthy have quality healthcare available to them – a future whose economic implications are awful for everyone. Recent legislation was an ambitious start, but going forward the healthcare industry as a whole, including all stake holders, must work together to find common paths to the common goal.