Monday, December 22, 2014

Uncertain Health in an Insecure World – 15

“Planning for World Domination”

Human attempts at world domination come in many forms.

Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) led Germany into World War I in support of Austria-Hungary. While he was both King of Prussia and German Emperor, the Kaiser's domestic policies were vacuous and his wartime leadership ineffectual. He lost The Great War and his crown on November 11, 1918, living out his life in exile in the Netherlands.

Henry Kaiser (1888-1967), an American World War II shipbuilding magnate, assured that his employees & their families received health care at a 10-bed Kaiser Field Hospital opened in Richmond, CA in August 1942. The first Kaiser Permanente Hospital was established by his foundation in Oakland, CA in August 1944, where the company still maintains its head offices.

Today, Kaiser Permanente (KP) operates a largely western U.S.-anchored niche market health care plan.  For more than seventy years, KP has relentlessly pursued its successful integrated care and insurance coverage business model, which is now closely linked to an aggressive disease prevention program. Within the ~9,500,000 KP plan membership group, chronic disease avoidance through illness prevention has been shown to be highly cost-effective.

The key unanswered question: Can the KP ‘Total Health’ best-in-class chronic disease prevention model be exported into other countries?

Total Health remains an unproven global commodity outside KP’s U.S. markets.

KP International (KPI) is working hard to share what it has learned in sunny California with the rest of the world. My Global Health Leadership Forum (GHLF) colleague, Molly Porter, is an unreserved proselytizer for the Total Health mantra. Tyler Norris, KP vice-president for Total Health Partnerships, believes too, telling me recently that, “Total Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being for all people… to address the whole person… and apply every lever we have – from paying living wages to implementing local and sustainable purchasing practices”.

I’m totally inspired!

But as of today, KP lacks evidence to support the dominating impact of Total Health around the globe. On behalf of KP, Tyler Norris has thrown down a proper organizational gauntlet: “Any community or national health system can do this, if they make the leadership commitment”.

Beyond developing motivated leadership, just what are the major barriers to Total Health adoption in the less developed countries of the world?

Care integration – communicating collective organizational goals; aligning and coordinating patient-related efforts to help achieve shared goals.

Complexity – managing the interdependence of sequential tasks, and the reciprocal effects of chronic diseases within systems of care.

Organizational direction – motivating employees & enrollees about what to think (i.e. mindset), mutual respect, and knowledge on how acquiring new skills fosters innovation.

Change – connecting today with tomorrow; getting ahead in a strategic way that is problem-focused, avoiding crises management.

Boundaries – moving beyond the health care sector, crossing into the social services sector including education, housing, childcare, etc.

KPI's Answer: the very same factors that determine Total Health's success in the U.S. will predict its successful adoption globally.

By value process mapping, pinpointing opportunities, keeping pace and coordinating relationships, KP has positioned itself to move offshore and morph its Total Health platform to meet other countries’ chronic disease mitigation needs.  

Not unlike Kaiser Wilhelm II's vain attempt to dominate early 20th century Europe, this is not going to be easy. The dis-integrated health care systems of politically fractious developing countries, where generally unhealthy populations abide, are more of a challenge than wartime industrialist Henry Kaiser ever imagined.

But KP is totally committed to spreading the gospel of Total Health internationally, and confident that it can overcome these real-world adversaries.

It's Kaisers we're talking about, so stay tuned!

The Square salutes those who take up a grand campaign.

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