Health Care & Insurance

KEYSTONE – In the face of reform and rising costs, leaders in health care need to write a new story for their industry and their organizations, according John Kenagy, keynote speaker at the Colorado Health Foundation’s annual Colorado Health Summit in Keystone.

Kenagy, physician, health care consultant and author of “Designed to Adapt: Leading Healthcare in Challenging Times,” told conference attendees Thursday that the health care industry is still living the “old story,” in which administrators try to “think themselves into new actions” by compiling and analyzing data, having meetings about the data, and then passing along instruction to those people on the front lines of care: practicing physicians and nurses.

Many of the methods, mindsets, strategies and structures in use in health care today are out-of-date, Kenagy said.

The “new story” of health care should be patient-centric, drive data and develop local experimentation and learning, he said.

Leaders should start taking action first without thinking about it so much, said Kenagy, a former visiting scholar at Harvard University.

“Adapt your way to new ways of thinking,” he said. “Make your own future rather than implement your future.”

With this kind of approach, Kenagy said, problem-solving results can be attained by implementing three “learning lines.”

These learning lines include developing a new, adaptive capacity aligned to a purpose, then linking action to verifiable results, and lastly, replicating and scaling the action to appropriate situations.

Because the brain is hard-wired to try to duplicate success, Kenagy said, if the new strategies are effective, they will be more easily accepted than data-driven changes. According to Kenagy, it takes about three months to see if a learning line will work.

While many assume that fixing the issue in health care will require a massive shift in the industry, Kenagy believes that a series of small changes by individual organizations will ultimately be more effective.