Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lessons from ACPE's Annual Meeting

It always takes me a few days to unwind from the intensity and new ideas coming out of our Annual Meeting. This year's meeting in Washington, D.C., and that's me in the picture with my wife, Janet, and an actor who portrayed one of the "founding doctors" during our induction ceremony for Fellows and Certified Physician Executives.

At the meeting, we heard from Dave Snowden about Complexity Theory and how it can be applied to the chaos of health care. He pretty much exploded many of the status quo ideas about a linear, predictable and manageable control mentality when it comes to improving our health care system! His analogy of parents trying to “manage” a 6 year old’s birthday party and all the unexpected twists and turns inherent in such an endeavor was hilarious.

He mentioned that we should be aware of “outliers” from the norm. Thinking about that, I met two medical students who found their way to our Annual Meeting and asked them why they came. Both were curious about physician leadership and system change. At least one has already decided he wants to be involved in system change when he graduates. I want to meet more outliers like these, and like the many young physicians who were attending their first ACPE meeting and are excited about being agents of change.

It feels like a renaissance is occurring among a growing number of physicians. No longer content to watch from the sidelines, or rail against powerful forces with major roles in health care, these physicians are excited and optimistic about the role they can play in shaping the system to better serve patients, and the professionals who work in the system. Many said they’re tired of the “us vs. them” way of thinking. They know that the strategic importance of financial statements, linking quality and safety to the business functions of medicine, and knowing how to influence organizations to change are new knowledge content that will be important.

We heard from David Cutler, a health economist, and from six leaders who gave us updates on what they expect in payment, safety, comparative effectiveness research, IT, medical home, and integration. The innovators among us – probably most of us – were imagining what new ideas can disrupt the status quo, and change the health care landscape.

Finally, I want to thank Harry Leider for his leadership as President of ACPE over this past year. He demonstrated to me, to our Board, and to our members how enlightened and effective leaders work. One of Harry’s greatest achievements was organizing seven Task Forces on key issues. Their reports were given in person to the Board. The analysis and recommendations were insightful, strategic, and very useful. You’ll be seeing more in the months to come about what ACPE is doing to implement those recommendations. Thanks to the more than 200 members who contributed to this vital work.

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