New Whitepaper Presents Clear Vision for Sustainable Healthcare Systems.

A new white paper produced by IBM Global Business Services outlines the drivers that the authors believe make today’s healthcare environment fundamentally different from the past as well as the possible scenarios for healthcare for the near future.

The paper called Healthcare 2015: Win-win or lose? makes the case that change must be made to the health care systems around the world and that the choices that have been left to the stakeholders of today’s healthcare systems are when and how.

The authors warn that if today’s stakeholders wait too long to act or do not act decisively enough, their systems could “hit the wall” – in other words, be unable to continue on the current path- and then, require immediate and major forced restructuring.

Instead of this forced restructuring the paper suggests stakeholders will need to make tough decisions and work hard to reach new levels of accountability.

The authors suggest that action and accountability are the basic ingredients of change and to successfully transform healthcare systems, countries will need to undertake the following actions:

  • Focus on value – Consumers, providers, and payers will agree upon the definition and measures of healthcare value and then, direct healthcare purchasing, the delivery of healthcare services, and reimbursement accordingly.
  • Develop better consumers – Consumers will make sound lifestyle choices and become astute purchasers of healthcare services.
  • Create better options for promoting health and providing care – Consumers, payers, and providers will seek out more convenient, effective, and efficient means, channels, and settings for health promotion and care delivery.

Health Plan Innovation Take: Clearly, this group of researchers has a good grasp on where the health care system should be by 2015 in order to remain sustainable. The problem remains: How do we get there? To this question the authors write, “Successful transformation will require all stakeholders to actively participate, collaborate, and change.” This we know. If someone was just able to align the interests of providers, insurers, patients, drug companies and others we could solve this problem well before 2015. The problem is we have not developed the forum in which this collaboration can take place.

The IBM authors note that this lack of a forum is a problem.

“Even so, bringing the entire portrait to life is an extraordinarily difficult, but vitally important task, which must be informed and achieved through a process of debate and consensus, and action and accountability.”

Perhaps the best “forum” for debate and consensus with this number of stakeholders with unaligned interests is consumerism. Let the market be the forum for aligning stakeholder incentives to achieve the goals of focusing on value, developing better consumers, and creating better options for promoting health and providing care. Otherwise, we will be facing the predicted “forced restructuring” sooner than we think. To see how that might look, just open the business section of your daily newspaper and read about the forced restructuring now underway in the financial services industry.

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