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Are Incremental Assumptions About the Future of Health Care Plausible?

by Fred Fortin

David Lawrence, former CEO, and chairman of the boards of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, speaking yesterday at the Estes Park Conference in Wailea, Maui asks:

Are incremental assumptions about the future of health care plausible?

This question is especially acute when it comes to planning a hospital which could take anywhere from five to ten years to build. Lawrence lays out a number of a propositions that you would have to assume if you were building a hospital today and believed in incremental change in health care.

  • Your margins will hold up
  • You will recruit and retain critical manpower
  • Your customers will remain indifferent to value
  • You will meet changes in demand and volume
  • Your legal, regulatory and ethical (public) accountability will not change
  • You will use new science and technology effectively
  • You will respond effectively to competitor threats and external changes
  • You will have no alternatives

He prods his audience will questions as to how likely all of or any of these will occur over the next decade? Not likely he says. Uncertainly requires you plan for multiple futures, not one, build flexibility to respond to several possible future scenarios and create institutional capacity to change and adapt. Few blueprints exists for the possible futures that are now in the making for health care.


2 Comments »

[…] my entire post over at the World Health Care Blog. Posted in Healthcare, […]

  James Case wrote @ January 29th, 2008 at 9:49 pm

Mr. Lawrence questions whether hospital planners can make assumptions that are basically status quo for their institutions. That is an interesting question, but it does not seem to be a question for hospital planners, but for public health administrators and politicians. In my opinion, there are so many restrictions on what a hospital can do that it makes it extremely difficult for the institution to be nimble.

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