Continuing education is one lifeline for personal and professional growth. I just attended the American College of Healthcare Executives annual Congress in Chicago. While I was there primarily to serve as a faculty member, I got a chance to sit in on several sessions.
One interesting take away came from global healthcare futurist and consultant Dr. Virginia Richardson of HealthCiertO who predicted that once the declining cost of genetic risk testing fell to $350 it would become a standard of care for all Americans to know their risks for serious or even life-ending disease. With increasing numbers of Americans using their results to address personal health risks, and with dramatic improvements in treatment technologies to mitigate those conditions, we will see a significant extension in the average life span.
Then Dr. Richardson made an astounding statement:
“The first American who will live to be 125 has already been born,” she predicted.
After letting this amazing factoid sink in, and since I was at a meeting for hospital and healthcare executives, I began to realize that this eventuality will pose significant ethical and moral challenges for hospitals, Medicare, Social Security, and corporate retirement plans.
In a nation where our political and policy debate is becoming so polarized, how will we be able to address these very difficult issues? The way we conduct the nation’s business today — with vitriolic finger-pointing debates with the next election cycle as the most important outcome — seems so inadequate when you consider the seriousness of the moral and ethical challenges that this type of technological breakthrough will deliver.
Should healthcare leaders be content with our traditional role of adapting to the change or should we emerge as the leaders for this and other critical debates? How will issues like this reshape the leadership competencies of our next generation of healthcare leaders?