It’s really no longer technology that stops us from advancing healthcare. It’s the 3 Ps: People, Policies and Politics. These 3 Ps have the power to stop us from transforming healthcare and have done so for years, but they also can move healthcare forward in ways we have long hoped.
At the heart of healthcare are the people: the people we care for, those whose jobs are to care for and assist them, and those that support them as family and friends. With every healthcare visit, interaction, and request are policies that address how care is delivered and organizations work together, how families are supported, how we pay for care, and how our institution is differentiated from all others. And finally, we have politics. Politics often defines organizational collaboration and the rules by which we operate and data is integrated, how payments are realized, how research is supported and brought to market, and even what treatments can be utilized.
Amidst the darkness of the Pandemic, there was one light visible. The light of collaboration and persistence; the light of breaking down barriers and getting it done; the light of doing the right thing to help others, the light of innovation and the light that used to be all of healthcare before the 3 Ps slowed it down.
What we saw during the Pandemic was a breakdown of barriers like we have never seen before. We saw people leaning in to help each other against unknown odds. We saw people go where they were needed and lend a helping hand regardless of politics or policy. We saw groups come together that had never worked together before or who used to struggle to collaborate. We saw health systems and payers building bridges to each other to support their patients and members. We saw pharma, payers and providers changing how they work together to support families, communities and countries in need. We saw providers traveling and working in areas where there were clinical shortages. We saw creativity in managing supplies and reaching out to neighborhoods. We saw the best in people.
We also saw policies abandoned or quickly modified to meet patient needs. Needed an authorisation for that? Not anymore. Need a form for that? Don’t worry about it; just get what you need. Certain Lab tests are now free. Certain doctor’s visits have no copays. And the list went on. We disrupted the old way of managing care.
We saw political rivals become allies. We saw political parties work together against a common foe. We saw government regulations updated, modified and eliminated. New regulations were also put in place to support the needs. Did everyone change? No, but enough was done to make a difference.
We were able to fundamentally change how healthcare is delivered in the span of a few months.
So what now?
Why does this matter? Because if we could do it then, we can do it now. We can continue to lean in and help each other do the right thing. We can continue to encourage collaboration between teams and organizations. We can break down more barriers. We can build new policies and evolve politics so that we can advance medicine. Instead of holding us back, the transformed 3 Ps have put the care back in healthcare. Let’s not stop now.