Memorial Day and The Promise of Better Health for All

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Memorial Day brings to mind two very different memories. I remember my girls celebrating the official kick-off to their summer vacations at backyard barbeques. And I remember the soldiers I met while serving at Walter Reed in the 1970s as a young doctor.

I also remember these soldiers when I read the latest news coverage of the Veterans Administration. These stories are often focused on challenges faced by the VA, like managing electronic health records (EHRs), or the opportunities to increase access to quality healthcare through technology like telemedicine. 

The truth is, children’s hospitals—not to mention the greater American healthcare system—face many of the same challenges and opportunities. And it’s critical to America’s economic future, and even our national security, that we start seeing better health outcomes for everyone, from veterans to children.

 

Delivering on the Promise Takes More Than Value-Based Care

One year ago, I wrote Value-Based Care Alone Won’t Reduce Health Spending and Improve Patient Outcomes for the Harvard Business Review. I explained that Nemours has implemented successful children’s health programs only to find that many are financially unsustainable in the current fee-for-service environment. I came to the following conclusion:

The changes necessary to transform the health of any population are simple: Embed healthful behaviors from birth, reward care efforts for outcomes rather than volume, and provide patients with the ability and tools to truly engage in their own health. But implementation is exceedingly complex. We believe that value-based care, implemented using lean principles and in conjunction with an ongoing, community-wide effort to address social determinants of health, can reduce health spending and deliver on the promise of better health, for children and for all.

A year later, we and the greater health care system in which we operate are still moving, if painfully slowly, toward value-based care.  America spends more than other wealthy nations for poorer results, yet from where I sit as a grandfather, physician, and CEO, I know from experience that we are capable of so much more.

 

More Perspectives, More Creative Solutions

We need more perspectives and more creative solutions. More investors in the future of our country’s economy and global leadership. In short, more people figuring out how to win with those Americans who, by definition, have the most potential to impact the future simply because they are the next generation. 

To bring more—and more varied—minds to the discussion of the health and well-being of America’s children, we are hosting Pediatric Moneyball, a unique conference in our nation’s capital this fall. In addition to a wide variety of highly-regarded panelists from the public and private sectors, the agenda features an innovation keynote by author Walter Isaacson and a leadership keynote by General Colin Powell, USA (Ret.).

I look forward to a day of listening, questioning, and meaningful discussion. If my time as a young resident at Walter Reed taught me anything, it’s that Americans are capable of amazing things, and there are few causes more noble to which we could apply our talents than to the health and well-being of our next generation.

 

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