Jeffrey L. Canose, M.D., FACHE, addressed the audience of the THA 2017 Annual Conference and Expo in Austin, Texas, on Jan. 26 as one his first duties as Chairman of the Board of the Trustees. Canose, also the chief operating officer and senior executive vice president of Texas Health Resources in Arlington, will be leading the association and its members through the 2017 legislative session to address a full schedule of health care issues, including Medicaid reimbursement rates, trauma care funding and behavioral health services.
Below is the text of his speech.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen
Let’s talk about the outlook for health care in the United States right now. Headlines and talking heads, of course, trumpet the uncertainty, the ambiguity and the volatility that we are expected to experience in the current sociopolitical milieu. The country is deeply divided over almost every topic of domestic or geopolitical import right now, and there is no logical reason to think that health care would be an exception.
Where we find the most agreement about health care in the public eye, the news is not good … the percentage of GDP spent on health care is not sustainable; the economic impact of the influx of the Baby Boomer generation into Medicare is not sustainable; the burden of uncompensated care and irrational cost-shifting to the commercially insured population is not sustainable; and yet we have become one of the largest and most reliable economic engines in many communities, from large urban centers to small rural counties. health care is “too big to fail” in air quotes, the implications of which are too staggering to address in the time allotted this afternoon.
In the midst of this growing chaos and complexity, the thesis of this message is that the collective “we” must remain grounded … and more tightly aligned than ever before, by three principles around which all of our words and actions must be anchored going forward. The “we” in this case is not only the leaders of hospitals and health systems in the different constituencies and geographies of this Association; “we” includes our colleagues at the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Nursing Association, and the other segments of the health care ecosystem who each make invaluable contributions to the total health of all communities and all people in the Great State of Texas.
The first principle … one that must be front and center of every communication we have with politicians, policy makers and the general public … is that health care is an indispensable social good; it always has been and must continue to be accorded such status. We are not an “industry”, and we do ourselves a disservice by adopting any such labels from other sectors of the economy. The work that we do every hour of every day is special, sacred, humbling and heroic ... extraordinarily so … in terms of the interactions we have with every individual who entrusts us to partner with them … sometimes more invasively than others … to restore health and achieve well-being of body, mind and spirit. Ladies and gentlemen: We save lives; we heal the sick and injured; we cure disease; we bring new life into the world, and we provide compassion and comfort to many people in their last moments on this earth. Name any other business that has a more intimate and meaningful relationship with the people it serves.
The second principle we must embrace is an ubiquitous and unstoppable obsession with outcomes and results in everything we do ... the people we serve every day deserve nothing less. No one really cares about population health, predictive analytics, attribution models, network efficiency and bundled payments unless and until we can prove that these constructs improve outcomes for every individual we have the privilege of treating. People want to know that we are going to keep them safe, heal them, and be nice to them … reliably, consistently and sustainably. They want us to make health care more patient-centric and consumer-centric, instead of asking them to navigate a system that has really been designed for our convenience and utility. They want to know that we are doing everything we can to eliminate waste of both time and money in service of making health care effective, efficient and affordable.
The third principle is deeply spiritual. When all of this seems impossible for us to accomplish on our own, we need to remember that nothing is impossible for God. We have the privilege of witnessing the miracles and mystery of His greatest creation every day … how else can one explain the intricacies and the interdependencies at the cellular and molecular level that have been revealed to us in the workings of the human body, the brain and the psyche. Even when the uncertainty, the ambiguity and the volatility seem to be overwhelming us, individually and collectively, we must always remember that “God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him, for those who are called according to His purpose”. All we need to do is go to God in prayer, for He told us “Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened unto you”.
No one in this Association is a health care leader by accident or coercion. Every one of you has been created and equipped and empowered, each in a special God-given way, to make great things happen in this world. Let these three principles … that our work is extraordinarily special, sacred, humbling and heroic; that we must be obsessed with outcomes; and that nothing is impossible with God’s help … serve as sparks to ignite inspiration, ideation, innovation and intentionality as we leave this place and go back to work.
Our calling has never been more certain.
The time is now.
Thank you very much.
You can learn more about Canose in the
Texas Hospitals magazine's article "From the Coal Mine to the Boardroom," available here.