Currently our ever present media floods us with today’s health care issues, but without focus for successful action. Our apparent disdain and often contempt for varied points of view mean that we don’t listen to nor learn from each other. The end result is we cannot see our way to find common ground to move forward. We Americans have been held hostage to the endless dead end debates on health care that go back to the 1800’s. We can and must move forward.
I know many think I am a Pollyanna but having worked with the people across the country for years I firmly believe in the deep goodness of so many Americans who want an accessible and affordable health care system that works for them, their families and their communities. Too often they are caught in the crossfire of those who tell them what the ‘right’ solution is without ever having asked people what they think or want.
There are groups that have found ways to make a positive difference. Two such groups are featured below.
I recently attended a conference at the Kettering Foundation in Dayton, Ohio. www.kettering.org. I heard thoughtful and encouraging stories from dedicated people who work in their communities to improve health care quality and access. The Kettering Foundation is “a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental research institute rooted in the American tradition of inventive research. Kettering’s primary research question is, what does it take to make democracy work as it should?” The Foundation’s work is unique. It uses citizens’ perspectives and focuses on what individuals can do collectively in their communities. I was a member of one of their community leadership programs from 1996-99. Kettering publishes Issue Guides on topics ranging from education to health care. Here is the link to their current health care issue guide. https://www.nifi.org/sites/default/files/product-downloads/Health_Care_2015.pdf
I also had coffee with the CEO of the Foundation for Health Care Quality in Seattle, WA. His organization is making a difference in improving quality and patient outcomes by working with practicing physicians in an environment based on trust and collaboration. www.qualityhealth.org . The Foundation’s work has demonstrated results from cardiac and surgical care to obstetrical care and others. It houses the Washington Patient Safety Council and has a Patient and Family Advisory Council. It was also a participant in the development of the Surgical Check List project that created a specific list of operating room review procedures prior to surgery, like a pilot tests the plane before a flight. It is also an incubator for new programs such as the Communications and Resolution Program. Details of these and other programs and its publication list can be found in the Foundation’s history: http://www.qualityhealth.org/downloads/1104_FHCQ_History_Publication.pdf
Lessons Learned and A New Voice Going Forward
When we change language from political to personal we can change the nature of the discussion, find common ground and move forward.
I plan to tell stories of people and organizations that are making a difference in the hopes that others will see and learn from their experiences and their paths and perhaps forge their own. I will also continue to report on some new developments, such as the survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation on the public’s actions and reactions to drug advertisements. The results may not be what you expect: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/10/28/the-good-and-bad-of-those-ubiquitous-drug-ads/
These and other stories can mirror back to us what is possible when we listen and learn and find our commonalities. We must move ahead with a more effective course that is not just a constantly repetitive recitation of our failed dead end debates.
Kathleen O’Connor © October 28, 2015