Friday, November 16, 2012

Collaboration: The Key to Making Health Reform Work

What do you get when you put physicians, hospital executives, non-profit administrators, and health insurance leaders in the same room?

A whole lot of innovation.

I’m talking about the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2012 Health Care Innovation Awards, which were held this past Thursday in Philadelphia.  UnitedHealthcare was a proud sponsor of the program, now in its second year, which recognizes the most innovative health care leaders in the region. Organized with the outstanding leadership of Philadelphia Business Journal publisher Lyn Kremer and editor Craig Ey, the event opened all of our eyes to the enormous potential that lies ahead in the health care field to bring better care to patients.

The program also featured a discussion on the future of health care by a panel of experts who are pushing our medical community forward, including our own Dr. Deneen Vojta, senior vice president for business initiatives and clinical affairs at UnitedHealth Group.

We also had the pleasure of having Philadelphia Business Journal healthcare reporter John George in our midst. John’s tweets and blog are full of the latest must-see stories in health care.  You can follow him on Twitter at JohnGeorgePBJ.

This year’s award winners demonstrate creative programs that bring healthy solutions to people who might not have access to them otherwise. Some of the innovative programs included a center for young refugees where they are treated by culturally sensitive staff, free dental screenings for underserved children, a new hospital to serve patients in Central Montgomery County where market research showed 60 percent of the patients traveled more than 30 minutes for medical care, and podiatrists who make house calls. These programs and the executives, health systems, doctors, nurses, volunteers and nonprofits who create them are what drives the health care industry forward, giving every member of the community the chance to live a healthy life.

The awards reminded me of the many tweets I received last Tuesday, election night, asking what’s next for health care reform.  My tweet, the law is only a part of health care reform.  The movement to modernize the health care system did not begin and will not end with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The real future of health care reform is in the group of health care innovators that stood with me in that room, and the hundreds of thousands of people like them across the country who are working together each day to improve the health care system.

Through innovation and collaboration, we can not only modernize the health care system to comply with the current laws, but continue to make improvements so that care becomes more affordable, accessible, and produces better patient outcomes.

In the next decade, we’ll continue to see more collaboration and partnerships among all of us in the health care industry as we work to use capital smartly and focus on non-traditional approaches to traditional methods of care. It’s this idea of sharing, not going it alone, that will ultimately make health reform work.

You can review and read more about the health care innovation award winners at

Sue Schick, Dr. Deneen Vojta (left) and Innovation Panel Members

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