You have to try stuff to find winners

Jen McCabe Gorman passed along a link to a video via Twitter Tuesday.  It’s a Modern Healthcare highlight reel of the Rocky Mountain Roundtable 2008.  The theme of the short footage is generally about bettering wellness prevention and chronic disease management.

Reed Tuckson, executive vice president and chief of medical affairs at UnitedHealth Group, emphasized community solutions, especially community-based health centers for all patients.

Dr. Tuckson’s talk focused on a four-step approach to improving prevention efforts and disease management:

1. Better leadership

2. Better strategic planning

3. Support research

4. Integrate prevention into clinical care through IT

All good points.  However, his quote about step two is bothersome.  Dr. Tuckson said, “We gotta get better strategic planning, we play around with prevention. ‘I heard a good idea the other day, let’s try that.’  That’s foolishness.  We need data, information that’s locally specific that says ‘here are the problems in our zip code and here are things we need to get at.'”

If trying new ideas is foolishness, fools are what we should aspire to be.

Granted, planning around prevention would improve through locally gathered data.  It would tell us a community’s greatest needs and then we would apply proven methods to address them.  That’s fantastic.  And some day it may work like that.

But varying needs will require solutions of many different feathers.  How do we find such solutions?  When researchers, doctors, public health officials, citizens, patients, etc. say, “I heard a good idea the other day, let’s try that.”

Tom Peters:

If Randomness Rules then your only defense is the so-called “law of large numbers”—that is, success follows from tryin’ enough stuff so that the odds of doin’ something right tilt your way; in my speeches I declare that the only thing I’ve truly learned “for sure” in the last 40 years is “Try more stuff than the other guy”—there is no poetic license here, I mean it.

You have to try stuff to find winners.

It’s wonderful to hear an executive from a private insurer pushing these ideas.  But throwing out the engine (good ideas) that will create innovative solutions to solve our oppressing health care issues is unwise.

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