“Follow the money,” is the mantra for journalists and businesspeople striving to find the essence of a confounding problem.
Money inevitably enters every conversation about what’s wrong with our health care system. But it’s not the first thing Prevea CEO and President Dr. Ashok Rai looks at in the debate over how to fix the problem.
No, as a physician by training, what Rai sees at the root of the problem is poor nutrition, lack of exercise, smoking and other bad habits that make people unnecessarily sick in the first place. Preventive care can go a long way in helping people live healthier — and yes, it costs money, but Rai would argue it costs considerably less to pay for routine checkups and health screenings before people become patients staying in costly hospital rooms.
“We’ve spent a little over eight years having a national debate on health care, yet, we haven’t debated health care,” Rai told me when we met a few months ago. “We’ve only debated access to the health care system. The vast majority of the conversation has been around the payment model, but it hasn’t been around the American health care system.
“That’s frustrating, as somebody who took the Hippocratic Oath, because our focus should be the patients — and we haven’t had a patient-centric conversation,” Rai added. “Many people know that for most of health care, health care providers are paid on volume. In all honesty, the sicker you are, the more money we make. And for the longest time, the more mistakes we made, the more money we made. That’s a perverse system.”
We’re starting to see glimmers of hope, he said, but “it needs to be a revolution.”
Rai will have a national forum for his point of view to be heard more clearly when he takes the helm of the American Medical Group Association in January. He’s a long-time member and board member of the advocacy group, which represents 440 organized systems of care including Prevea, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Aurora Health Care, which in turn represent about a third of patients cared for in the United States.
In Northeast Wisconsin, Rai’s passion for connecting health with happiness comes through in marketing messages of its celebrity partners, Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb. Check out this month’s cover story by MaryBeth Matzek to find out how Prevea has established a high profile for its philosophy of preventive care.
Staying true to your passion has always been at the heart of what author and Fast Company co-founder Bill Taylor espouses. Taylor, who will present the keynote at the start of the second day of Manufacturing First on Oct. 26 at the KI Center, says the internet and a “free-agent” attitude that bubbled up in the 1990s helped people launch businesses that no longer clung to the old ways of how things are done.
“Businesspeople had different ideas about the kinds of businesses they wanted to run — and the kinds of lives they wanted to live,” Taylor said in a phone interview last month. “People realized you no longer have to work for jerks.”
Though his philosophy appeals across all industries, Taylor’s message is sure to hit home for our Manufacturing First audience. Check out our Connections feature on page 20 to find out more.
Then, consider registering for the event at www.manufacturingfirst.com.