Standing on the shoulders of giants

March 1, 2005

EVERY SO OFTEN, something in healthcare really captures my imagination. I am frequently amazed by the innovation, intelligence and dedication of the people who work in this industry, but once in a while something special will happen and I'll think, "I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life."

EVERY SO OFTEN, something in healthcare really captures my imagination. I am frequently amazed by the innovation, intelligence and dedication of the people who work in this industry, but once in a while something special will happen and I'll think, "I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life."

One example is the when I heard First Consulting Group's Steve O'Dell give a presentation on "The 21st Century Health Plan." I remember exactly where I was (at the 2003 Ingenix Summit held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas) and even where I was sitting in the room (way in the back right corner by the door, because it was standing-room-only). I also remember being sick as a dog with the flu during that event, yet still feeling lucky that the one session I managed to drag myself out of my room for was such an insightful and memorable one.

Another example is when I heard Don Berwick's keynote presentation at last year's annual meeting of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. When he detailed his plan to save 100,000 lives in 18 months-in great detail, with very specific steps and timelines-it was truly energizing. Take a second to think about that: saving the lives of enough people to fill Fenway Park, the home of Berwick's beloved Red Sox, every six months. The thought fills me with a combination of elation and dread; all of those people are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. Saving a single life is an awe-inspiring thought to me, and thinking of 100,000 almost boggles the mind. My own wife, parents, sister or friends could be among that number. Motivation, indeed.

The final example is highlighted in this month's Executive Profile on Chris Koller, currently the CEO of Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island . Rhode Island recently created the position of Health Insurance Commissioner, the first of its kind in the country. Once Koller is approved by the state's Senate (expected to happen in mid-March), he will become the governor's top advisor on healthcare issues. Charged with improving access and affordability for all of the state's residents, Koller will be continuing the excellent work he's done for the last 10 years at NHPRI.

If he's as successful in his new position as he was in his former one, I expect other states to follow suit. And some time down the road, I'll be able to look back and say, "I remember when..."

Mike McCue iseditor-in-chief of Managed Healthcare Executive.He can be reached at mmccue@advanstar.com
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