Dennis P. Scanlon, PhD, professor of health policy and administration at Pennsylvania State University and editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Accountable Care, discusses his 2021 end-of-year letter calling on health system leaders to learn and innovate in real time.
Cost, accessibility, and quality of health care are some of the major issues that have existed for many years and need to be solved, said Dennis P. Scanlon, PhD, professor of health policy and administration at Pennsylvania State University and editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Accountable Care® (AJAC).
Can you tell us about your letter in the December 2021 issue of AJAC that called on health system leaders to learn and innovate in real time?
As 2021 came to an end, I was writing a year-end summary and thinking about the journal for the new year. I have to confess that, as I sat and thought about what the world looks like at the end of 2021 and where we need to go, I had a little bit of frustration on the fact that we continue to have the remaining problems in health care that we've had for years, to be quite honest. So I reflected on what is it going to take to actually solve some of these, and what are those problems: high cost, obviously; challenges with access; varied quality of care; and really a difficult health care system to navigate for patients and for families. Those have been pervasive for many years. Those are the problems that we have in health care.
It occurred to me that every year, at the end of the year, we could say the same thing for probably the last decade, the last 2 decades. So I thought I'd be a little bit provocative and just challenge folks to really think about innovation. And really, I thought about this from the perspective of designing a system for the customer, which is the patient or the individual health care user. Really, historically, that's not how the US health care system has been designed. So I wanted to challenge our readers, I wanted to challenge our authors, I wanted to challenge anybody who could get wind of this to really think about what does it really truly mean to innovate. So that was the goal, hopefully to be a little bit provocative. I think that most people who've been involved in health care for a while know what those problems are, they know those problems in their own industry, whether it's a hospital, an integrated delivery system, a pharmaceutical company, whatever the case may be. The challenge, of course, is how to do that innovation and what some of the barriers might be, but I think we're going to get into that.