Healthcare Innovation Speaker, Dr. Pritpal S. Tamber, Discusses the Biggest Challenges Facing the Healthcare Industry
Dr. Pritpal S. Tamber is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bridging Health & Community, a Seattle-based non-profit dedicated to transforming how healthcare works with communities. Dr. Tamber believes that our current approach to health – deploying technical solutions to bio-medical problems – is not only unsustainable but increasingly failing in a world of circumstance-related chronic conditions. In response, he founded the Creating Health Collaborative, an international group of practitioners operating from a community’s understanding of its circumstances, rather than healthcare’s.
In his keynote presentations, Dr. Tamber illustrates how value-based healthcare offers us the opportunity to reimagine health systems so that they return to being of service to the community. He also shows how members of the Creating Health Collaborative are acknowledging their role in driving health inequity and how they are changing what they do to embrace true population health.
In a recent interview with Executive Speakers Bureau, Dr. Tamber discusses the biggest challenges facing the healthcare industry today.
What do you feel like in the next 5 years will be the biggest challenge for hospitals regarding Population Health?
I think there is going to be a significant shift in the next few years and most hospitals are going to get caught out. At the moment, the rhetoric around population health, whether it be through the frame of the social determinants of health or health equity, is around how an individual’s circumstances affect their health outcomes. The evidence is clear, however, that it’s less about the individual than it is about the wider community, and it’s less about health outcomes than about life outcomes. Hospitals are definitely going to be caught up in this given their economic importance, whether they like it or not. They’ll probably fend it off for a while but you can’t demand 18% of GDP and not expect to be asked what you’re doing for the community as a whole, rather than just collections of individuals.
What is one thing that you feel that hospital CEO’s need to understand about healthcare disparities?
They’re going to have to accept that, although their operations have little influence over disparities they’re going to be seen as a major vehicle to address them. It’s increasingly accepted that health care contributes no more than 25% to our health. The rest comes down to social factors and the environment. Dealing with social factors and the environment is usually the role of public health but the sector is severely underfunded. Also, it’s increasingly understood that disparities track social injustices, like exclusion. Social factors, environment, exclusion, these are not things that health care usually concerns itself with but as payment models move to ‘value’ there’s no doubt that that’s going to change. Health care will have to get involved.
What are some questions that companies need to ask themselves about Population Health and why is Population Health something that they need to focus on?
Companies employing people from lower down the socioeconomic gradient already know that health care is a costly part of their operations. Recent approaches on the basis of individual wellness have had some impact but not enough. Moving the needle on individual health requires operating at population levels; that’s where 75% of our health comes from. Smaller companies may respond by cherry-picking people who are in good health but that’s a short-term solution. Larger companies with a significant local footprint don’t have that option and are going to have to think proactively about their local impact. The leading ones are looking for ways to frame their local impact and understand that it’s a convergence of benefits, corporate social responsibility, and any philanthropic work they’re involved in.
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