Crain’s Cleveland

Danny Williams, executive director, The Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland
I believe three of the most significant challenges in health care today are:

  • Finding a message that helps build a consensus around the idea that access to health care should be viewed as a basic human right, in much the same way as we view access to clean air and clean water.
  • Adjusting the system for paying for health care from one tied to procedures performed to one focused on outcomes achieved for patient populations.
  • Increasing the incentives to encourage more health care providers to pursue careers in primary health care to better serve the growing population of individuals suffering from a growing range of chronic diseases and conditions.

Steffany Larkins, executive vice president, chief of staff, diversity officer, Medical Mutual of Ohio
I believe that lack of transparency is one of the most significant challenges. Patients don’t know what the services cost, nor do they know where to get the best value for their money. This is compounded by the fact that many employees still do not understand how much their health care plan is costing their employer.

With the advent of defined contribution models where employees are empowered to spend their own health care money, transparency will be demanded, which will drive choice and competition. Additionally, while it has been a challenge implementing the Affordable Care Act over the past four years, the employees of Medical Mutual have been able to react to the laws as written and move the organization forward.

The new challenge is the apparent realization (four years too late) of the ramifications of some of the ACA provisions and the back-peddling we are now seeing. The industry is way too large and complex to turn on a dime. Significant waste is occurring as we all react to a fluid situation instead of investing in real transformation and fixing the problems.

Meredith Bond, dean and professor, College of Sciences and Health Professions, Cleveland State University

  • Continued spiraling health care costs (18% of GDP — almost 2 times that in most developed countries) with worsening health outcomes. These trends make us economically uncompetitive on world stage.
  • Need to target medically underserved population — addressing social determinants of health disparities — access to medical care.
  • Imperative to develop more effective strategies for preventive health care in all segments of population, with a focus on lifestyle modification, and access to health information.
  • Prioritize solving crisis of illegal use of prescription drugs; prioritize funding, and preparation of health care workers for mental health intervention.
  • A need to address crisis of inadequate number primary care physicians and the need to develop a more diverse health care work force.
  • The prioritization of education of students in health care professional programs, to a new paradigm of health care by interprofessional teams; eliminating silo and hierarchical organization of health care.
  • Work with medical and other health profession schools to adequately train students in health care policy and economics.

Dr. Ronald Golovan, medical director, Be Well Solutions
The obvious test of health care going forward is one of economics.

It may come down to dollars and sense. If available dollars are limited, we must make sense of their use.

The expectation to deliver the highest-quality product at a lower cost must be met. Moving from a reimbursement system that traditionally rewards a reactive approach to illness to one that emphasizes a proactive approach to health will be imperative in meeting this challenge.