Berwick advocates for new era of accountability

It's time to enter a new era  of healthcare that returns to the purpose embraced by old-school practitioners and combines it with the accountability of today's healthcare demands, the former head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said.

Today, the two eras of healthcare conflict with one another, Don Berwick, M.D., now a senior fellow with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, said during a video interview with Hospitals & Health Networks.

In the past, healthcare providers were taught that trying harder and being noble generated excellence. Today, he said, with evidence that healthcare is not performing as it should in terms of patient safety, patient-centeredness and cost, the system has shifted to one of reward and punishment.

The ideal environment will resolve the dilemma by maintaining measurement and accountability while still valuing the profession without glorifying it, he said in the interview.

"It's about returning to purpose," he told H&HN. "Why are you doing this? I don't think we get to an answer without individual people reconnecting with their purpose, and that goes right up to the board of trustees."

It's not naive to believe that can happen, Berwick said. "It's the route to success in a very hostile climate."

Berwick previously has argued that a new set of care principles can achieve the Triple Aim of lower costs, better patient experience and better outcomes. Key to making that happen is to partner with patients and families in making change, FierceHealthcare previously reported, a theme he repeated in the H&HN interview.

Cutbacks in healthcare coverage and a weakening of the safety net will result if such a system isn't developed, Berwick has said. Reducing waste will help--and it's more than possible, he said.

To learn more:
- watch the interview