Last month, in my annual president’s message, I shared with the field my reflections on health reform—where our nation has been, where we are and where we’re going together. I paraphrased from Winston Churchill when I said that this is “the end of the beginning,” because I believe that the true impact of reform will come about not from what’s already happened, but from what we do going forward. It was in this spirit that I extended an invitation to our partners and the public to help inform and sharpen our thinking by sharing their thoughts and ideas directly with me in a series of “one minute memos.”
The response was fantastic! More than 100 people shared their thoughtful, reflective and constructive thinking, feedback and ideas. There were also several individual requests and program suggestions that were forwarded to appropriate Foundation staff.
As I read through the many interesting ideas, personal reflections and highlights of excellent work being done in the field, there were three key themes that consistently emerged.
The first centered on the overriding need to reduce the growth of health care costs; the second related to workforce including the shortages of both primary care physicians and nurses; and the third focused on prevention and public health—keeping people from getting sick in the first place.
These areas, along with the additional domains I outlined in the president’s message, certainly aren’t small things. But what I heard from our partners and grantees is that we really do need to fix the big things when it comes to our health and our health care. And that we don’t lose sight of what matters most to Americans when it comes to health care—knowing that they have the opportunity to lead healthy lives, that health care will be available when they need it, and that they get the best quality and value for the dollar that’s spent on that health care.
There is much to be done and learned as we refine and shape our strategies in the coming weeks and months. This won’t be easy and we don’t have all the answers. But the collective feedback makes me feel like we’re on the same road, going to the same destination: better health and health care for Americans.
I am truly grateful to everyone who shared their responses and insights. We’re proud to be your partner on this path.
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A.
President & CEO
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation