Donald Berwick, MD, president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, has worn a lot of hats — head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, candidate for Massachusetts governor and, more recently, an advocate for single-payer health insurance and member of the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission.
So, he has a lot to say and said some of it to Health Leaders Media. During this Q&A, he elaborated on the point he made in his recent keynote at the IHI conference — we’re overdoing in on quality measures. He also described why he thinks quality will lead to lower costs.
Berwick: My plea is to take the spotlight off finance and profit as the primary responsibility or activity of senior leaders because I believe we will never solve the problem of cost and finance by focusing cost and finance. We’re going to have to solve that problem by focusing on the design and redesign of healthcare and the improvement of its quality.
As long as executives are leaning in on revenues and profits, they will not have the energy; they are not evincing the confidence to work on care as the route to success.
I promise healthcare leaders that if they will focus on quality as their central agenda, on the needs and desires of the people they serve, if they focus on waste and its continual reduction, if they focus on the experience of the workforce, they will be financially successful.
Maybe that sounds paradoxical. But the route to financial success in healthcare in the future is not in the study and management of finance. That’s the wrong agenda. It won’t succeed.