That has always been a guide for my life. “Light a candle, don’t curse the darkness!” I am looking for likeminded people in healthcare. There has never been a greater need. These are some of the darkest days Americans have faced in decades. Covid cases are increasing again. There is a war in Europe that threatens to engulf everyone. Whole cities in China are shut down. Inflation is eating wage gains and our politicians are paralysed by self-interest. Our medical system continues to be broken. “Americans should be able to count on receiving care that meets their needs and is based on the best scientific knowledge. Yet there is strong evidence that this frequently is not the case.” These are dark days.
I have been trying to light a candle in chronic cardiovascular condition management for twenty years and one of the best insights I ever had came from a man who was a major leader in the development of cell phone systems. I knew of his story and I believed that the transformation of the phone industry and the needed change in our medical system had some factors in common. I invited him to lunch for some advice. He told me he had been a leader in a large land line company. He had told the rest of the executive team that cell phones would be the next new thing and he wanted to lead the cell phone effort in the company. They laughed at him. They were dominant in the land line business, cell phones would be a distraction. He told them he would prefer to work with them, but if they could not support the effort, he would leave the company and do it on his own. They could not see it, he left, and you all know what happened. Many of us don’t even have a land line phone now.
The best advice he gave me is this: “Identify people who ‘get it’. Find a way to collaborate with them. Don’t waste your time trying to convince people who don’t ‘get it.’ You will waste valuable time, and they will wear you out. Nothing will come of it. Focus your efforts on those who understand and are willing to work together” Improving chronic disease management is an enormous problem that requires multiple stakeholders coming together to combine new science, new systems, and new payment models in a comprehensive solution. No one person or organization can make progress that matters. The problem is too big.
I have followed his advice and am working with multiple stakeholders—coaching companies, data and analytics companies, telemedicine companies, patients, community leaders, work site clinics, major health systems, and clinical practices. We would all love to hear from others who “get it” and want to collaborate to bring together the systems to manage chronic conditions more successfully. If we are successful together there will be plenty of credit and reward to go around. These are dark days for Americans and healthcare that is not patient-centered is one of the darkest spots. Please get in touch if you get it and want to help light a candle.
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Great insights, solid vision!
Bill, this pure truth and example of something that we couldn’t imagine changing (phones) is a great analog to our challenge in healthcare. In allergy we have been thinking it’s the hockey stick effect where once we get a critical mass of allergy treatment providers using SLIT it will be the inflection point where it becomes as common an option as having a cell phone and/or landline.
Your thought leadership and energy with OMT is amazing, I’m humbled to be your colleague and share your mindset. We will continue to do everything we can to help make the needed changes.