For years, we’ve known about the many dysfunctions of our nation’s fragmented healthcare system. Much of the impetus behind federal healthcare reform was to address some of these problems in order to better coordinate care. Putting aside the divisive politics of “ObamaCare” and the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of its cost containment measures, it’s clear that change is happening.
Some of that change is coming about because current law mandates it. Other changes are being driven by the leadership and innovative approach of organizations like Quality Quest for Health of Illinois. Since it was founded by Caterpillar Inc. and OSF Healthcare System in 2006, the Peoria-based collaborative has worked hard to improve our massively complex healthcare system, and it is succeeding, in spite of the many challenges.
It’s rather remarkable what this organization has done in just a few short years. From the newly-founded Central Illinois Health Information Exchange and its allcharts software, which securely links all of your medical records together electronically, to the Central Illinois Wellness Council, a spin-off of the organization’s Healthy Lifestyles School Project, Quality Quest has been at the forefront of healthcare transformation in the region. And those are just two of its better known projects.
In this issue, Dr. Gail Amundson, the organization’s president and CEO, reveals the “secret sauce” that allows her organization to succeed. Click here for that answer, one that should come as no surprise to anyone even remotely familiar with the leadership of this community.
A similar approach is built into the Peoria City/County Health Department’s 2011-2016 Community Health Needs Assessment & Plan, which calls for “collaboration among area medical providers, hospital systems, social service agencies, elected officials, the business community and public health organizations” to address the chronic diseases that account for nearly three quarters of the $2 trillion-plus spent on healthcare in this country each year. As Peoria County Public Health Administrator Greg Chance explains, “We need to have a systems approach.”
A major focus of this issue is on wellness—an ever-popular buzzword, but a critical piece of the puzzle. It remains for each of us to take personal responsibility and do our part to improve our own health. Businesses can assist by making wellness initiatives a focus and providing incentives for their employees. With so many of our waking hours spent in the workplace, even a modest initiative can have outsized results.
It’s not just a feel-good notion. A healthier workforce lowers the costs associated with healthcare, but it also improves productivity and reduces absenteeism and turnover—truly a win-win for everyone. iBi