Amitech Solutions Blog

Working Together, We Can Turn Healthcare Around

By Dan Pelino, General Manager, Global Healthcare and Life Sciences, IBM

Healthcare isn’t just a national policy issue. It’s an important part of the economy and everyone’s daily life. And, together – leaders of both the public and private sectors - we can provide leadership, collaboration and governance that can help us not only address cost, quality and access, but drive an economic impact that is meaningful to us all.

Around the world, cities, communities and regions have very different health care requirements and outcomes. Local business, political and academic leaders can come together with health providers to help achieve a more cost-effective, high-quality care system with access for their locale. We must team with doctors, nurses and care givers and not leave this grand challenge at the doorstep of our hospitals and emergency rooms.

Improving healthcare locally requires more than building a top-flight hospital. We must focus additionally on the broad local health picture. And, working together we can create not only successful integrated delivery systems, but also better access to healthcare in our cities, communities and regions. We can focus on nutrition and wellness. Cities can plan land use to make it easier for people to walk to shops and transit points. We can build bike lanes that encourage exercise, as well as impacting citizen travel and congestion. Educators can help students make healthy food choices and enjoy physical activity.

Institutions of higher learning can focus on research that not only creates break-through medical treatments, but also encourages innovation and creates new locally-owned companies. Employers can promote health habits and coordinate with regional leaders on healthy living. And they all can use technology to link together health records, social program data, disease patterns and patient input to engage individuals with their own care. This helps everyone see what needs to be done. Healthcare is everyone’s responsibility.

One of the things that make cities, communities, and regions smarter is collaboration between business and government leaders. When it comes to healthcare, understanding the connection between medical care and social program costs, spending can be optimized and information can be presented that is focused on keeping citizens well.

The Rochester, N.Y., region, with 1.1 million residents, provides a good example of how business and civic leaders can work together to create smarter healthcare. Quality health measures were a key component in helping the city get ranked the sixth most livable city in theU.S. by Places Rated Almanac 2012. It has also helped make it No. 1 for job growth inNew YorkState, because employers appreciate success in controlling healthcare costs. On top of all this, commercial health insurance costs inRochester are 30 percent below the national average and Medicare spending is 21 percent below the national average.

Healthcare is a vital part of making a city, community, or region economically successful.  Business, government, education, health providers and payers all have to be involved on a local basis to make smarter health care happen. Healthcare is everyone’s responsibility – and done correctly – it can foster a more resilient and prosperous community.