Last week, I attended the 23rd Annual Population Health Colloquium in Philadelphia. The meeting involved high-level professionals who came together to figure out how to improve the population’s health. The sessions were engaging and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, I left with more questions than answers. Maybe this is rocket science!
Many speakers discussed Social Determinants of Health as one of the contributing factors to poor health in most of our large cities. One of the speakers said, “We don’t need more data on SDoH; we need to start finding ways to address the causes. Others talked about Justice, diversity, inclusion, and equity. A woman who was a Diversity and Inclusion specialist told me she spends time talking to doctors, nurses, and others to learn how to work together in a collaborative environment and to treat each other as they want to be treated.
In the exhibit hall, there was a focus on introducing new technologies to help doctors, residents, pharmacists, nurses, and all members of the healthcare teams do their work more efficiently and with better accuracy. There were also several tools to help improve communication and engage patients in their care.
Another discussed topic was the importance of prevention and well-being as essential to improving health and quality of life. Patient engagement was also stressed. We must involve the patient to see substantial changes in our healthcare system. We also have to talk about quality of life and how we will care for people as they age. Quality of life needs to be discussed early so people can decide on the type of care they want as they age. People also need to prepare and talk to their families about end of life so their wishes will be known when they can’t speak or advocate for themselves. Preparation cannot be stressed enough.
I left the conference with many thoughts and more confused than when I came in. The challenges our country faces might not be rocket science, but fixing them is hard work, and it will take each of us to do our part if we want a healthcare system and a country that is fair to all and treats everyone with the respect each of us wants.
Stay strong…the next few years are not going to be easy.