Calling for Problems

Dec 14, 2012, 9:15 AM, Posted by

Brian Quinn Brian Quinn

In the Pioneer Portfolio, we’re all about ideas—big ones and little ones—the ones that will help solve some of the toughest problems in health and health care. We have articulated our strategy for investing in innovations and innovators who have the potential to transform areas such as the health care delivery system, the patient-provider relationship, and the education of health care professionals. That strategy has yielded some significant breakthroughs, and the hope for much more to come. 

But we’re still missing a big piece of the puzzle. Why? Because right now, we only hear from the folks who have solutions to offer. That approach, by its very nature, limits the number of problems we know about. Those of us who work on the Pioneer team only see health care from the proverbial 30,000-foot vantage point. We are not on the front lines, so we don’t see firsthand the issues health care providers, patients, and families struggle with every single day.

We don’t see the palliative care physician who watches a family override a patient’s do-not-resuscitate order.

We aren’t there as parents struggle to understand their child’s life-limiting illness—and manage all the care related to it.

We don’t know the challenges a nurse faces as he juggles a multitude of competing priorities—including reams of paperwork—and provides quality, compassionate care to the elderly patients she is assigned to every day.

So we want to start asking about problems, instead:

  • What problems do you see as the most crucial ones in health and health care?
  • What problems are most in the need of big, bold innovation?
  • What problems are so tough to solve that we need an entirely new way of tackling them?
  • What problems have you experienced firsthand?

And by you, we mean you—anyone with an interest in talking about these problems. You may be a health care provider or a scientist or an innovator. You may be a patient who sees these problems from a much different perspective. Or you may simply be someone with a passion for helping us change the way we think about health care in this country.

Let’s start this conversation right here, right now. Share your thoughts about the problems you see. Share your solutions, if you have them. We hope this will be just the beginning of a larger discussion.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.