By Linda J. Schwimmer, JD
I know you are accustomed to seeing Dave Knowlton’s views in this space as he shared his singular insight surrounding health care with all of you for the past several years.
As I take over the reins at the Quality Institute — and Dave enjoys his much-deserved retirement — I hope you will now follow me as I examine the ways we can work together to improve health care.
At times I may share a personal story, or break some health care news, or, when the health care bureaucracy conspires against patients, come out swinging. My blog will not be a one-way conversation. I welcome your thoughts and views. I know the diversity of views and the breadth and depth of the stakeholders we bring together defines the Quality Institute.
You may have heard me at Dave’s retirement celebration, where I likened myself to Stephen Colbert, another New Jerseyan also taking over for a well-known guy named Dave. Colbert said he was not replacing David Letterman, adding, “His creative legacy is a high pencil mark on a doorframe that we all have to measure ourselves against.”
I feel the same way as I begin my role as President & CEO of the Quality Institute. I am thankful to Dave and the founders of the Institute for their work to make health care safer, more accessible, and to promote cost containment and transparency.
The Institute, in its earliest days, published health care data — a radical and controversial notion at the time. Deaths and suffering from hospital-acquired infections and other medical mistakes were considered an inevitable part of health care. Providers insisted they could quietly fix their own processes and systems.
Today we know that transparency not only gives consumers the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their families but transparency also leads to quality improvements. We see this again and again. Yet the fight for transparency is not over. We will continue to push for the data we believe will help consumers, employers, providers and policy makers. Right now in New Jersey consumers don’t have easy access to health care quality data and timely information about what procedures or care will cost them. We don’t think that’s right.
At the Quality Institute, we are a change agent pushing for transparency, quality, cost containment, and for initiatives that improve our overall health. We will continue to:
- Help translate complex health care policy and data so people can understand it. We communicate with media outlets to reach a large audience.
- Push for changes away from fee-for-service and toward value-based reimbursement. Providers should be compensated for keeping people well and not just for the volume of procedures they perform.
- Grow our Conversation of a Lifetime initiative because we know people would rather die at home, surrounded by the people who love them, and not in an ICU.
- Work with our Mayor’s Wellness Campaign because we know that health and wellness is not just about doctors and hospitals — but also about how we live our lives. Towns and mayors can promote health in their own communities.
And thanks to the generous support of The Nicholson Foundation, our QI Collaborative, a learning network for community based coalitions and Medicaid ACOs, will continue its work to support new health care delivery models that improve care for our state’s most vulnerable populations.
I bring to this new role my experience as a policy maker in the insurance field, as a regulator in government world, and as a small employer-purchaser of health care as a partner at a law firm. Health care, as you all know, is deeply personal. That’s why change is difficult — yet also necessary.
I look forward to working with all of you as we move into this new chapter of the Institute. I know the challenges will be great, but I also believe the relationships we have developed with dedicated professionals in every aspect of health care will help us promote a health care system in New Jersey that is safer, more accessible, and more effective. Thank you for your support and please know that my door is always open.