Ian Morrison wrote an interesting piece today in H&HN Daily: Will Your Hospital Maintain Its Independence? Most anything that starts with, “My native Scotland,” attracts my attention, but Dr. Morrison makes some very interesting comparisons between nationalism and traditionalism that are especially insightful in understanding the current healthcare landscape in the US. More particularly, he offers some useful observations on the national referendum for independence in Scotland at a social level and resistance to change in the US healthcare industry at an individual level.
Scotland recently rejected a call for independence from the United Kingdom by a margin of 55% to 45%. From what I followed in The Times as a run up to the vote it was anticipated to be a lot closer. An emotionally charged issue as one might expect when contemplating the future fate of a nation, the debate over independence goes way (way) back. When I was in Edinburgh in mid 90s I met family there fervid about having such a referendum on the ballot. And, of course, if you’re familiar with Braveheart, you know the thirst for independence goes back to when battles were fought with spears and arrows and naked bums.
The point is, human commitment and passion run deep whenever and wherever the past is concerned. As a nation, it’s the cultural mores and traditions that bind together its citizenry into a common purpose that forms a society beneficial to the individuals participating in – and often fighting for – that society. At an individual level it’s the ability to associate with that purpose through reflection and introspection – memories as it were, whether real or perceived.
Though often positioned as an assertive claim to acquire, it is really most often a defensive maneuver to retain. And thus the desire for independence – at both a national and individual level – therefore also reflects an inherent resistance to change. And that is the parallel Morrison draws to the American healthcare system. An historical cast of passionate, empathetic caregivers – both individuals as well as the institutions to which those individuals have belonged – is being threatened by, “the relentless growth of large regional systems of care coming to dominate the landscape.”
The concern is genuine and real, and how it will ultimately play out is still far from being determined. Morrison shares a few thoughts on how individuals and organizations might best prepare for decisions affecting their own independence. He rightly points out that maintaining independence at all costs may not be prudent, but I direct you to his article (link at the beginning of this post) because it really is worth the read.
I would add to his thoughts the need for a true sense of urgency to create a market strategy that addresses the prospect of remaining independent – or not. Reactive thinking is never strategic. Very often necessary, unavoidable and critical to survival – but not strategic. Take the time now to ensure your organization’s leadership team is in alignment on how it will approach threats to independence – before that threat is manifested as a fete accompli.