Posted by Peter Neupert 
Corporate Vice President, Health Solutions Group

From time to time over the last few months, the Washington Post has asked me to reply to questions posed by the Post’s Health Care Rx blog, which is tracking developments in the health care reform debate on Capitol Hill.

This week’s question was a natural:  “The Senate Finance Committee passed a bill containing its version of the health care overhaul. Are you satisfied with this bill? What does it miss?”

My short answer, as the Post’s headline put it, is “Personal Accountability.” We can’t forget the role all of us play in the care of our health and that of our families. My longer answer is on the Health Care Rx blog, but I wanted to share my thoughts here as well:

There's a long road ahead for health care reform -- five bills to be merged and countless hours of debate still to come. A lot could change over the course of the next few months, and the content of the final reform bill is likely to vary from any of these individual bills. The question we need to keep asking ourselves is whether reform will drive the kind of wholesale transformation needed for the industry and consumers -- the kind we've seen in banking, travel and other service industries. Ten years ago, we wouldn't have imagined that people would do so many things themselves. Technology and business model innovation enabled new types of services -- putting consumers in charge, dramatically changing engagement and economics. Imagine the possibilities for new services in health.

 

Taking this into account, what's needed is a new 'health delivery' framework that drives value, rewards experimentation, puts consumers in charge, and enables innovation--essentially changing the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of everyone involved in health delivery. We all have to be prepared to work together in different ways.

We have an opportunity now to move the traditional health care business model in a new direction:

o Shifting the value of health care from treating people when they are sick to finding ways to keep them well(allowing physicians to focus on and be accountable for outcomes vs. volume).

o Transferring the management of routine diagnosis and treatment from highly-skilled professionals to newer, more efficient/convenient, and cost-effective delivery methods like minute clinic, self-serve, nurse practitioners -- so doctors can focus on using their skills in the most effective way possible (allowing physicians, health systems, and 'new entrants' to be accountable for value and innovation).

o Encouraging consumers to make better lifestyle choices. We need to help them engage in their health differently, be wiser purchasers, and understand the trade-offs involved.

At the end of the day, the ultimate success of health care reform will depend as much on how we will work together and change our behaviors as on the legislation ultimately passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. I applaud the administration for shining the light on health care as it has never been done before.