Linda Schwimmer on the Importance of Bringing Stakeholders Together

Many stakeholders in healthcare have concerns about the same issues just from different vantage points, they just need to be brought together in order to enact any change, explained Linda Schwimmer, JD, president and CEO at the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute.

Many stakeholders in healthcare have concerns about the same issues just from different vantage points, they just need to be brought together in order to enact any change, explained Linda Schwimmer, JD, president and CEO at the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute.

Transcript (slightly modified)

What experiences from your previous work as a lawyer and in state government did you bring to your job at the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute?

It's interesting, when I worked in the legislature, and after I worked in the legislature I worked at the Department of Banking and Insurance and I was in charge of regulation and policy there, what I saw from that experience was I met with many different stakeholders and they would all come in with their own particular point of view.

So, for instance, when I worked in the Department of Banking and Insurance, once a month we would meet with the medical society and then we'd meet with the association of health plans, and then with the hospital association, and they would all be complaining about the same types of issues but all from their own vantage point, and I always felt like "Geez, if somebody could really pull all these groups together, to work together to solve problems, so much more could be accomplished."

They really have a lot more commonality than they think they do and that's why this job is so exciting, and the role of the Quality Institute is so exciting and so unique is that's exactly what we do. We really gather all the different stakeholders around the table, try to pull them together with the common mission of reducing quality and costs or controlling costs at least, and how we can move the ball forward, so to speak. All giving a little—realizing that if we give a little, we can actually improve the whole system together, and that's our unique role. I saw that in government but people get more intense and more entrenched in their positions, because they're trying to influence the people in government, whether it's legislators or regulators or policy makers. Here they can kind of relax and get around the table and try to really problem solve without worrying that it's going to end up in a law or an order of enforcemenet or something.