Contextualize

Alright,  before I continue to share my views publicly about challenges and opportunities in our healthcare system in future blogs in the “Awesome Healthcare” category, I thought I should give a bit of a context…

Numerically Speaking: 

First, my bias: We have a good health system!

And you don’t have to take my word for it. I  can back this up with evidence! Just take a look at the graphs below that I developed based on the 2013 World Health Statistics Report of the World Health Organization.  Relative to the rest of the world, we are doing quite well!

But… (yes there is always a “but”)… we can do better!

We need to do better than countries similar to us. Taking a look at our performance compared to our peers (below) our performance is mediocre at best. Even if you forget about the comparison to other countries, keep in mind, that behind each of those numbers there is a person, a person that could be you, or your family. A person whose quality of life is negatively affected because of a medical error, as a result of poor chronic disease prevention and management, or due their inability to navigate effectively through our fragmented healthcare system.

P.S. Note the lack of any data related to mental health prevention and management.

Personal Touch: 

Now, enough with the numbers. Some personal anecdotes:

Well, thankfully I am pretty healthy (at least physically, you might challenge me on the mental part of the equation :-o). I also have not yet sent a sample of my saliva to 23&Me to find out about my genetic predisposition to various diseases and that ship may have already sailed. However, since I graduated from university in 2009 where for almost 9 years (yes I was a professional student for 9 years) I was able to access pretty awesome healthcare through my university’s health centre, it has been quite challenging to be able to find a doctor that is available, doesn’t go on maternity leave, and follows up on my requests. (disclaimer: A couple weeks ago I did manage to find a family health team that I am actually quite impressed with, more on this in a future blog).

Therefore, most of my anecdotes, come from my journey as granddaughter to an amazing set of grandparents; most recently, my grandpa, who has been battling with various unknown and known illnesses for the past 2 years. I will share some of the challenges we faced in future blogs, with his permission of course.

Good to Great: 

Now, we can and should do better, don’t you think? #obvi!!!

And guess what (and here comes my second bias), we have many elements that will enable the transition from good to great.

So the question, in my opinion, is not whether we will have a great healthcare system, but a matter of when; can dramatic change happen and can it be demonstrated by our numbers and felt by our patients and caregivers, in our life time?

I love Jim Collin’s lessons on how change does and doesn’t happen (slightly modified excerpts from http://www.jimcollins.com/article_topics/articles/good-to-great.html)

“Here are the facts of life about change myths. Companies that make the change from good to great have no name for their transformation—and absolutely no program. They neither rant nor rave about a crisis—and they don’t manufacture one where none exists. They don’t “motivate” people—their people are self-motivated. There’s no evidence of a connection between money and change mastery. And fear doesn’t drive change—but it does perpetuate mediocrity. …Technology is certainly important—but it comes into play only after change has already begun. …and dramatic results do not come from dramatic process—not if you want them to last, anyway. A serious revolution, one that feels like a revolution to those going through it, is highly unlikely to bring about a sustainable leap from being good to being great.

In dramatic, remarkable, good-to-great corporate transformations, we found the same thing: There was no miracle moment. Instead, a down-to-earth, pragmatic, committed-to-excellence process—a framework—kept each company, its leaders, and its people on track for the long haul. In each case, it was the triumph of the Flywheel Effect [i.e. the additive effect of many small initiatives that act on each other like compound interest]….the victory of of steadfast discipline [in people (who before what), thought (hedgehog leaders), and actions (the stop doing list)] over the quick fix. And the real kicker: The comparison companies in our study—firms with virtually identical opportunities during the pivotal years—did buy into the change myths described above—and failed to make the leap from good to great.”

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