71 out-of-the-box ideas the healthcare industry would consider if it controlled reform

If healthcare reform were left to healthcare professionals, we’d have nonprofit insurance companies, tax breaks for gardening materials to encourage good health, mandatory walks every two hours for anyone in a stationary job, and a doctor would take patients’ text messages.

That was just a sampling from hundreds of multicolored sticky notes posted by the attendees at this week’s Mayo Clinic Transform conference. Members of GE’s Healthymagination team spent time during the three-day conference leading brainstorming/crowdsourcing sessions that asked how to make healthcare better, touching on everything from health education to leveraging emerging health IT concepts.

What do healthcare professionals believe? Essentially, they don’t think anyone explains anything properly to anyone, and that the government and health insurance pay for the wrong kinds of treatment. Those aren’t necessarily revelations. But the practical application of those concepts may surprise you.


You can’t pigeonhole the medical community. You have hippie-ish ideas “More research around happiness, joy and respect,” views from the left like taxing fast food, and the more popular right-wing thoughts on tort reform. But in the end, the most common theme from the multicolored sticky notes that were pasted across nearly a dozen white boards was: If people were told things correctly, taught things properly and medicine was compensated for the things that made people healthier, America would be transformed.

I don’t know if I buy it. Do you see yourself in these ideas? And what does it say about healthcare and political reforms that these are the ideas coming from the medical and life sciences sectors?

(Disclaimer: I participated in the brainstorming, but didn’t use any of my ideas below.)

Some of the most popular ideas …

Deliver healthcare in different forms — reduce visits to building and increase virtual consults

Let me text my doctor

Use care teams in hospitals instead of silos and specialists

Educate patient and family through interfaces and experiences designed for them

Stop overworking healthcare providers with nonpatient-centered tasks

Tell truths the way the patient wants to hear them

Consumers shouldn’t need a physician in order to get the care they need

Create a universal data language that is easily shared

Ideas to improve the healthcare system …

Get a tax benefit for keeping employers happy and well

Make sure healthcare providers don’t have to process 100 documents to complete a patient case — then they can give patients the time they need

Adjust med school debt for income

Reduce the cost of medical education

Engage and utilize local pharmacists in the healthcare team as patient advocates

More research around happiness, joy and respect

Provide healthy meals (delivered to homes) to seniors released from acute care

Match information gathering to patient work flow

Create a common health language

Create a national provider credentialing repository

Malpractice premium reduction

On improving quality of care …

Start earlier: More emphasis on WIC, Head Start, child care (primary prevention)

Connect clinical data to social data to payer data

Walk through the patient experience and design all experiences through that lens

Physicians should be paid for making people healthier

Down with EMR proprietary data!

Give consumers full access to their medical records (must be in a lay language)

Give nurses more time to do what they are trained to do — be patient advocates

Improving the patient experience …

If a device exists that causes pain, make sure a corresponding device exists to provide relief/comfort

Create waiting rooms that are more private and have better atmospheres

We had a healthy place instead of a hospital

Create an app that tracks medications being taken and administered

Use the Socratic method when diagnosing/discussing treatment: What does that patient think needs to happen and start a discussion/treatment plan?

Sell insurance across state lines — create a national exchange

Show patients a flow chart of what patients suffering from the same disease did in terms of physician appointments, drugs, surgeries, etc. Give them a road map based on previous patients.

Easy access to my medical records and the medical data is accessible to all healthcare providers

How to promote wellness …

More time off, allow and encourage wellness during the day

Make sure doctors understood the mind/body connection as well as the science of care

Have an annual comprehensive “wellness consult” with the appropriate type of provider

Nap times

Every two-hour walk breaks for stationary jobs

Health snacks at work and conferences (no candy or soda)

Have a wellness or health market as part of a neighborhood farmers market

Tax fast food

Tax credits for gardening materials

Stop the debate between whole and package foods. We need both

Drive-thru fruits and veggies

Along with price of healthy foods in grocery stores, also post rewards benefit of that food

How to harness IT to improve healthcare delivery …

Create a single integrated health network

Give everyone the technology (connected to the Internet)

Data about health was on a chip people carried with them

Allow the global professional to take healthcare records from Bangkok, Thailand to Rochester, New York in one second

Make a mobile device the hub for healthcare

Have a global online marketplace (like Amazon). It includes products such as healthcare services with costs; ads from providers; and consumers can comment, rate the services and have information on physicians as well

Provide better healthcare content

Eliminate state medical licensure so across-state-lines e-health is possible

Create personal preference records so providers can tailor services

Because the younger population is engaged in technology, use them as agents to promote well-being for the aging population

Create a wiki-style medical record. Each provider adds to the common story rather than starting over with repeating elements

Provide patient portals at the bedside for all patients


Reinstate mandatory physical education for K-12

Teach basic economic principals to healthcare providers

Health is taught all through the school year and not just two semesters or a class

Make insurance companies nonprofit

Get test results back quicker, which will reduce anxiety and stress

How to improve healthcare awareness/education

Eliminate all “silver bullet” TV ads

Make healthy choices cool and poor health stupid

Make sure there is no stigma around sexual health

Pharma companies provide easy-to-read drug pamphlets

Create an Olympics for health living

Incorporate health living into games for kids

Bring meditation into grade schools

Personal health maintenance was made a core study at schools