Federal Agencies Seeking Your Solutions to Improve Healthcare

December 17, 2010

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."Perhaps the federal government is channeling Maya Angelou in a pair of new initiatives aimed at getting healthcare stakeholders to take a more active role in better care. Or perhaps they prefer another, less articulate, quote to get the point across: "Put up or shut up."

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."

Perhaps the federal government is channeling Maya Angelou in a pair of new initiatives aimed at getting healthcare stakeholders to take a more active role in better care. Or perhaps they prefer another, less articulate, quote to get the point across: "Put up or shut up."

In either case, both the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) want your help in improving health outcomes for all Americans. Yes, you.

Last month, CMS officially rolled out its "Innovation Center." Created through the Affordable Care Act, the goal is to explore new ways the agency both delivers and - perhaps more importantly for you - pays for care for patient care. In announcing the new initiative, CMS Administrator Don Berwick said in a statement his agency will include patient advocates, hospitals, physicians, consumers, and others "to get the best ideas and put them to work."

One of the goals, as outlined by Berwick, is the area of coordinating care among doctors, nurses, and others to care for a patient. Now I'm sure you have ideas of how this can work, culled from your everyday experience, and no doubt, everyday frustrations.

So now is the time to speak up.

Yes, CMS, through its Innovation Center Web site, is seeking your input on how to improve the healthcare system. Now I heard you snicker when I said that, but hear me out. Ms. Angelou has a point: Either start offering solutions or live with the problems.

This same spirit of collaboration is also alive at HHS - and also includes cash prizes.
Earlier this month, the federal agency unveiled "Healthy People 2020," a health promotion and disease prevention program. The 10-year initiative also includes "myHealthyPeople," a challenge for technology experts to develop their own app to improve patient care.

In fact, the agency is turning over tons of its own data to help you develop a system that will help both patients and doctors manage care, work to prevent disease, and meet a number of other public health goals through smartphones and other devices.

Now I'm sure you have some ideas at how to do this, and I’m sure you have a smart tech person either in your practice or at arm's length. Team up, talk it out, and put it down on paper. You could take home $2,500 and get a trip to San Diego to showcase your mobile health innovation.

So rather than sitting down and grumbling to yourself about how unfair this regulation is or how "life would be better if….," offer your years of expertise, frontline knowledge, and great ideas to the folks in Washington, D.C.

You've always wanted to tell the government how it should operate. Now is your chance.