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Every continuing education conference almost always provides one, two, three, or more “takeaways” – great ideas worth further study and analysis.  For me, there were two at the recently concluded annual Congress of the American College of Healthcare Executives in
Chicago. 

First, that genetic testing will ultimately become a standard of care and that change will lead to Americans leading longer lives – the first person to live to be 125 in America has probably already been born – and second, that healthcare executives must rise to meet a new standard of performance in the overhaul of the American healthcare system:  to become leaders of change in America, not adept adapters to new government regulation.

Image_1_1100The latter takeaway came from NPR reporter and Fox News
analyst Juan Williamswho delivered  an engaging and charming message regarding change in America.  Speaking two days
following approval by Congress of the first major legislative overhaul of the healthcare insurance system in decades, Mr. Williams challenged the healthcare industry to improve the system through leadership. 

His message was on target.  Healthcare leaders, an industry analyst once wrote, are “…on one side strongly resistant  to change concerning all things financial or regulatory and on the other are among the best executives in the world in figuring out how to adapt to what they believe are onerous rules.”

I believe that Mr. Williams was suggesting to his ACHE audience that the next round of change, which will be driven by huge Medicare induced deficits, must eventually focus on thorny issues like aggressive case management (read: rationing) and end-of-life care where so much of our Medicare dollars currently are spent.  His implication was that these more challenging structural healthcare reforms would be better handled by healthcare professionals not the self-serving members of Congress who make policy (read: political) decisions with one eye always on the next election cycle.  At one point in his speech Mr. Williams quipped, “It was so cold in Washington this winter that members of Congress were walking around with their hands in their own pockets.”

Can anyone possibly imagine Congress deciding difficult decisions involving complex ethical issues? 

Special Note: To all my many colleagues in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) who commented on this blog during the recently concluded annual ACHE Congress in Chicago, I am profoundly grateful for your words of praise, your encouragement, your ideas and even your disagreements with a point of view.  Thank you for your readership.