Healthier Health Care Systems Now!

Most of us know the intractable challenges of health care, no matter where we live. Many of us are battle tested, battle weary and battle scarred.  Yet, we continue to have high hopes for healthier healthcare.  We have irrepressible dreams for healthcare systems that thrive and are committed to wellness.  Just because some of us have been in this conversation for awhile, doesn’t mean the shift won’t happen, no matter how discouraging it gets at times.  Really how do we nudge the big machine of the system when it seems to be hunkering down that much more? What is the staying power we need to do this work in the midst of chaos and serious push back?

What do we do when we are asked to be different but the “system” wants us to do all the same things?  We are being asked to transform but please don’t look any different than you do right now?  These are tough scenarios, impossible push backs from a system that is seeking its own next evolution and afraid to go there at the same time.

Just because we can’t see the way, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  But what does it take to stay the path of pioneering, shift and change?

My good friends and colleagues Tenneson Woolf, Steve Ryman, Dr. Marc Parnes and I have put out a call to current day pioneers in health care systems change to gather in Salt Lake City, Utah from January 11-13th to unearth the deeper questions that sustain us and propel us forward on this mission for healthier health care systems now.

The more we are in conversation as a hosting team, with those planning to attend and those who wish they could be there but for various reasons find it impossible, the more inspired I become about how THIS conversation can and will be different and more than all the ones I’ve been in over the last 5 or 6 years.

I am particularly inspired about what connection can be made between this event and a global conversation on health care.  As we come out of a retreat together, what is it that we could collectively offer, or even teach, others about what we are leaning?  We see a Community of Practice emerging from this.  What does the CoP do together over a period of time that none of us can do alone?  What is the conversation that needs to happen in health care right now – today – that cracks it open in a new way?  What is the unifying force and what happens if it gets unleashed directionally?  How do we use the amazing technology platforms available to do this in whole new ways?

Other thought provoking questions that have been arising through the many conversations:

  • “The system doesn’t work that way” is not a good enough answer anymore.  How do we create systems that make sense to any of us?
  • Systems are more complex that we can manage – how about simpler systems?
  • What’s at the edges that if we could see it and understand it, might help us open up the middle?
  • What happens when we tell our stories of inspiration, especially the ones that are in danger of getting lost?  Can we revitalize these real world stories and our own capacity to be in the journey for the long run?

I am inspired by the Occupy movement, even as it struggles to understand what is next – like health care, like community change, like financial systems….  Charles Eisenstein writes about Occupy in this post on Where next for Occupy.  One of the things he says is, “We want to change the psychic and interpersonal substructure of the system we live in.”  Is this what we mean when we talk about health and wellness systems instead of illness systems?  What would happen if we could change the psychic and interpersonal substructure of health care?  What does that even mean?  I’m not sure but would love to be in that conversation.

Our hosting team has also been inspired by our friend Peggy Holman’s work on Journalism that Matters.  What if this gathering on health care that matters produces a similar set of principles; something like:

  • Health care professionals are stretched, refreshed and inspired to pursue innovations
  • New and often unlikely partnerships
  • Breakthrough initiatives
  • A community of health care innovators
  • A growing culture of innovative health care

We are not in this because it is easy.  We are in it because it matters.  Because we have tried many things, seen success with some and know there is what appears to be a long ways still to go.  Because “the system doesn’t work that way” is not a good enough answer anymore even if we haven’t quite seen the path forward.  Because we know we need to be in this together.

Because we feel in our very beings it is actually possible to create healthier healthcare and we know that it must happen more systemically. We are gathering with people who want to see and do leadership differently for the future of healthcare. With people who are hungry for new conversations. Who feel a responsibility for imagining and contributing what hasn’t been imagined before. With people who know that the way to take on big stuff is to turn to each other. Muck it up. Get curious. Stay focused.

I grow hungrier every day for this conversation now.  Wondering how much bolder I need to become…. we need to become… in a age that needs boldness and daring like never before.  What a good way to kick off a new year – and a prescient one at that!

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4 thoughts on “Healthier Health Care Systems Now!

    • Thank you Michelle. I have the good fortune to be in so many conversations about health care that I feel the tension between the way things are and the new that is trying to find its way through but doesn’t always know how. I’ve been in life and work long enough to know you just never know exactly what the tipping point will be and it gives me and others the strength to stay in it. I grow increasingly excited about the potential for this conversation to be different and to begin something that can grow.

  1. Pingback: Healthier Health Care – Now! A Little Taste of What’s Cooking « ShapeShift

  2. Pingback: Innovators and Pioneers in Systems Change « ShapeShift

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