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Hospitals are Providing the Only Leadership in Healthcare Reform

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, August 21, 2009

This is my opinion column, so I'm going to give you an opinion this week with which many who make a living pillorying the healthcare industry probably won't agree.

Many of you deserve a round of applause. There, I said it.

After years of paying lip service to improving quality and delivering value for healthcare services and supplies, hospitals are starting to get the message that healthcare providers will no longer be issued free passes for low quality and high costs.

Meanwhile, I can't really imagine how that message is even making it to hospital leaders, given the fact that our elected representatives can't seem to agree on much of anything healthcare-related these days.

President Obama still has not appointed a CMS chief, and his healthcare reform effort is going off the rails because of predictable bomb-throwing from the bases of the right and left. One side won't give up its public health insurance option while the other distorts the truth about current legislation and refuses to make much effort to offer any alternative solutions to the problems of high costs and poor quality. At the same time, we all meekly continue to watch our healthcare benefits erode while our salaries remain static or worse—because healthcare cost increases are eating up any gains.

So back to where progress is really being made, in your hospitals.

Not that you haven't been prodded to do something about outcomes and skyrocketing costs. From the Institute of Medicine's 100,000 Lives report to pay for performance from commercial insurers to Medicare's HCAHPS regulations, you've been unloaded on—deservedly—with both barrels in recent years about your inability (as a group) to provide quality outcomes for patients and better value.

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