Health care group a guide in time of change

(The Tennessean, September 15, 2013)

By Larry Van Horn, Ph.d., and Sen. Bill Frist, M.D.

October 2014 is a month that our nation has eyed for more than four years. We will take a historic step to revamp our health care system by enrolling millions of Americans in federally mandated health insurance coverage.

At the same time, our city will take another critical step to ensure leaders from Nashville’s largest industry are poised for the future of health care as we plan for the second Nashville Health Care Council Fellows class.

For the nation, years — decades — of planning brought us here. We embark on this journey of health care reform knowing it is the most critical since Medicare and Medicaid started in the 1960s.

The impact of this work in five, 10, 30 years is unknown. Health care experts, economists, policymakers and clinicians have all opined, predicting the good and the bad. Their commentary shaped the Affordable Care Act and other seismic shifts in our health care system.

But in Nashville, we stand in a different position. Instead of commentary and law writing, we will execute changes at the bedside — in hospitals and health care facilities throughout the country owned by local companies. Today, and in the coming years, our work begins as we:

• Build networks of care across multiple settings for the benefit of patients.

• Manage the health of the populations, rather than just treat individual episodes of care.

• Discover measures of quality that result in a positive, more consistent patient experience and reward providers for quality.

• Use technologies under development in the nation’s most innovative companies.

• Create new models of care delivery that change the way, and the setting, in which patients receive care.

We will do this all while grappling with massive changes in reimbursement that prompt us to work smarter and more innovatively.

The practical work of implementation is hard work. But Nashville’s track record for innovation, entrepreneurship, partnership, collaboration and growth in health care positions us perfectly to take on this challenge.

One of the most promising demonstrations of the collective spirit and tenacity of our $70 billion, 250-company industry is the Nashville Health Care Council Fellows. This group of senior executives, chosen each year from every corner of the industry, is shaping the industry. With our inaugural class behind us, the 2014 class is poised to expand upon their work and develop ideas that will resonate in the boardrooms and C-suites of every health care organization in this city.

The Fellows recognize what we all must: We can no longer be slow to change. Disruptive innovation is rapidly opening doors for a new era, and historic months like October 2014 are only the beginning.

Bill Frist, M.D., and Larry Van Horn, Ph.D., are co-chairs of the second annual class of the Nashville Health Care Council Fellows initiative. Bringing together 30-plus senior industry executives over the course of eight daylong sessions in 2014, the group engages the health care industry in a collaborative experience that will guide it through an era of unprecedented change.

This article was originally featured in The Tennessean