Don’t Forget to Look Up! Learnings from our 5 Points of Health Care™ Overview

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In college I worked at a diner. It was a greasy, smoke-filled, bubblegum pink breakfast joint that enjoyed a steady stream of business on Saturday and Sunday mornings. My boss, the owner of the diner, was a cranky woman who had spent decades in the restaurant business. She had very little time and an even smaller amount of patience to train new staff. 

One morning, with a line out the door, coffee stains on my shirt and syrup sticking to my note pad, my boss yelled a couple of expletives across the diner followed by “Maura! Look up!” 

No one else really noticed because the place was so loud. But at that moment, I realized how my focus on serving each individual table resulted in losing focus on the bigger picture of serving our customers at large. I was playing a server’s equivalent of whack-a-mole—serving table 8 coffee and then putting the coffee back. Taking table 7’s order, then placing the ticket in the kitchen. Taking table 10’s food to them, then going back to find that coffee pot I had just put away to refill table 7’s coffee. 

By “looking up,” I found a way to anticipate the needs of all the customers in my section, seeing the larger system at work while taking care of individual requests. It was great advice.

On January 23, we hosted our 5 Points of Health Care™: Overview panel event. The event reminded me of that morning in the diner when I was asked to look up. We learned a lot about what each sector within the health care system is faced with, as well as three things we should all consider while innovating in health care:

  • Interoperability is a key driver for innovation in health care 
  • Costs are too high; we need to shrink the whole pie, rather than argue over who pays for which slice 
  • Patients need innovations that are proven to lead to better quality care 

Overall, what I took away is that we all need to look up and think through how our actions to create a better health care system within our silos will affect the rest of the system. While we must tackle the individualized needs that keep each sector operating on a daily basis, it is important that we all look up to help drive transformation towards a system that works better for all of us in the long run.

My ask to you is to find a way to “look up” to anticipate future needs of the people we are serving. Find ways to support transformation at a large scale that will create a more person-focused and economically sustainable system. The event brought to light much of what we know about the health care sectors and how the system we rely on is not really a system at all. 

I hope that you continue to join us during the upcoming 5 Points of Health Care panels to look up and discuss how we can all create a better future for the health care system together.

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