Are You a Change Agent?

October 19, 2015   |  Tags: Blog   |  Tags: QI , Leadership , CMS
Meredith Roberts Tomasi

I was fortunate to attend Be the Change: Strategies for Health Care Transformation on October 13, 2015. The meeting was a four-state, “Mega-Learning and Action Networks” event, hosted by HealthInsight Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization. The key takeaway? Health care transformation is not easy, but it is inevitable, and it is our responsibility to be agents of change.

So, what is a change agent? Among the definitions explored was a person with vision who is willing to take risks. Yes, those risks will leave scars, as Marc Bennett, CEO of HealthInsight attested to. One of the reasons change in health care is especially hard is that the system we have built actively resists any change. Truth be told, each of us wants to see it transform in ways that make our own lives easier (all change is personal, after all). If we can’t get our way, the status quo defaults as our second choice, which I find to be unacceptable.

We are all aware of the huge health care challenges the nation is facing: the growing number of obese Americans; the huge variation in cost and quality across geographies; Medicare and Medicaid being the largest driver of federal spending; large increases in costs to both employers and employees. It can all feel daunting. There are glimmers of hope though. We are starting to accept that the delivery of health happens in places that go beyond clinic walls. Indeed, health care can be delivered through various access points- schools, community centers, workplaces. CMS is accelerating plans to change the way care is paid for. Actionable data is becoming more available to communities. Perhaps most importantly, we are shifting from a focus on health care to a more robust definition of health. None of this change will stick if it is done in siloes. Change agents need to work together across traditional boundaries, sharing ideas and successes, as well as failures.

I heard the speakers loud and clear: transformation is coming and it is inevitable. Riding it out is a bad strategy. It’s OK to admit you don’t know how to get there; just don’t say it’s impossible. Those of us in attendance accepted responsibility for creating this change and I hope you’ll join us.

Meredith Roberts Tomasi, MPH is a program director for Q Corp’s Cost of Care and Payment Reform programs. Prior to joining Q Corp, she was an administrative fellow and manager of clinical planning at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Earlier in her career, she worked in the employee benefits arena for six years as a benefits manager for a large self-insured employer and as a Consultant.  Meredith holds a Bachelor Degree in Psychology from Wesleyan University and a Masters Degree in Health Policy and Management from the Harvard School of Public Health.  She is an active volunteer with Kaiser Permanente’s hospice program, serves on various alumni committees, and is learning Spanish. Meredith, her husband Anthony, and their two cats moved from Boston to Portland in late 2012.  Since then, Meredith has fallen in love with the northwest, and spends her free time canoeing, camping, playing board games, and enjoying local food and drink.