High Stakes

Healthcare’s defining moment: Be the change you want to see

Healthcare’s defining moment: Be the change you want to see

By Molly Cate & David Jarrard

Seventeen health systems doubled down on their collective strengths and delivered a powerful message to the industry last month: We can no longer wait for someone else to fix healthcare for those who need it most, and the time to act is now.

Representing more than 280 hospitals in 21 states, the Medicaid Transformation Project could reinvent healthcare delivery. Yes, seriously.

The best part of the project (in our opinion anyway) is that it signals a shift toward self-initiation, ingenuity and collaboration and a step away from healthcare’s typical squelchers of progress: political wrangling, regulatory paralysis and slow adaptation of new technology.

The goal of the Medicaid Transformation Project, according to its organizers, is nothing short of transforming healthcare and related social needs for the 75 million Medicaid beneficiaries in America.

That’s a high bar, but there’s nothing else quite like this group.

Anchored by founding partners Geisinger Health System, Advocate Aurora Health, Baylor Scott & White, Dignity Health and Providence St. Joseph, the Medicaid Transformation Project will leverage the power of these and other participating systems. Other project partners include former CMS administrator Andy Slavitt’s new investment firm Town Hall Ventures and digital health accelerator AVIA.

The partnership is novel in that it isn’t about M&A, no money is changing hands and there’s no agenda other than figuring out the best, most financially sustainable way to provide better care to people the system is failing. And its primary focus will be on digital solutions, which are faster, scalable and cheaper. In other words, this group can make a big difference and do so quickly.

The Medicaid Transformation Project exemplifies several shifts in thinking we’ve identified as crucial for the evolution of healthcare. For one, a core tenant of the initiative is finding real-world solutions to address social determinants of health. That will be key, since the next phase in healthcare will combine the very new with the very old: cutting-edge apps and processes to crunch an unprecedented volume of data alongside helping people eat the right food.

We have also long believed that this type of outside-the-box collaboration is critical now and will only become more so. Increasingly, hospitals will prove their strength not by the information they protect, but by whom they can convene. They will change from top-down, militaristic organizations to nodes at the center of a web that stretches out into the communities they serve. This project is a step towards building a strong web.

Health systems must take charge and buckle down because they’re facing challenges to the status quo from all sides. Take the tech goliath Amazon and its alliance with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway to do…something…in healthcare. Even without a clear understanding of what these companies will do, they’ve shaken the system. The alliance only appears more threatening with the hire of physician, healthcare advocate and intellectual Atul Gawande as CEO. We actually like that move, especially given his track record of improving global health with a tool as simple as a checklist.

The street cred of its participants, we believe, is the power of the Medicaid Transformation Project too. These system CEOs have made true progress on the frontlines of healthcare, even before it seemed possible to form innovative partnerships such as the Medicaid Transformation Project. But now that the project is possible and happening, these organizations can share their incredible resources. Power, after all, can only be amplified when distributed.

The stage is set for the Medicaid Transformation Project and the industry is watching. Let’s hope this group will lead by example and be the change we want to see.


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