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Health Care

Potent Medicine Delivers a Treatment Plan for U.S. Health Care

From the author of On the Mend, winner of Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award

Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - 09:43

(ThedaCare: Appleton, WI) -- ThedaCare has announced the launch of Potent Medicine: The Collaborative Cure for Healthcare, the latest title from award-winning author John Toussaint, M.D., of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value.

Potent Medicine (ThedaCare, 2012), outlines the essential framework for redesigning America’s health care system. The framework includes three elements: transparency of quality and cost data, paying providers for outcomes, and care designed around the patient. Read the executive summary here.

In his hard-charging debut, On the Mend: Revolutionizing Healthcare to Save Lives and Transform the Industry (Lean Enterprise Institute, 2010), Toussaint introduced readers to the efforts of ThedaCare, a five-hospital system in northeastern Wisconsin, to redesign health care delivery through lean transformation. On the Mend recently earned a Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award for its impact on the industry’s operational excellence.

Yet care delivery, as described in On the Mend, is only one side of the game. Potent Medicine focuses on two additional components: payment and transparency. The book includes eye-opening accounts from the physicians and system leaders who stood on the front lines during the development of Wisconsin’s most innovative health care organizations, and from the patients they’re trying to help. It further examines the importance of conducting similar experiments in every state in our country.

Change is bearing down fast on health care in the United States. Potent Medicine shares the insights and tools leaders need to not only anticipate and adapt to that change, but to lead it.

Specifically, Potent Medicine:
• Sets the context for why a systemic overhaul is needed
• Encourages solutions that are designed at the state level, to better address local health needs
• Defines true transparency and explains its necessity for patient well-being, decision making, and process improvement
• Explains why provider perspectives must shift from profit centers based on body part or condition, to incentives that lead to preventive overall care
• Provides a comparison of global payment vs. fee-for-service models
• Offers real-world examples of provider partnerships with local employers, as well as advice on how to structure similar experiments
• Cites sample frameworks for global or bundled payment models, for preventive, chronic, and acute care conditions
• Addresses the impact of provider shortages and reimbursement concerns
• Provides examples of how to apply lean methods like value-stream mapping to the patient experience
• Discusses why conversations about end-of-life care must be part of value-based health care
• Examines the realignment of current laws to encourage competition through collaboration, not consolidation
• Emphasizes the need for ongoing experimentation to test new payment structures

Toussaint continues the tradition of honest, practical storytelling that he began in On the Mend, and uses it to explain the deep challenges, stumbling blocks, and unexpected triumphs on the road toward a health care industry that delivers better quality at much lower cost.

There is no simple or single answer to achieving this future state, but the book offers a path on which we can start. It is a call to action for leaders across the nation to join ongoing experiments, learn from them, and adjust current methods.

To supplement the book, the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value is developing an online information hub of experiment outcomes. This hub will help build the body of knowledge necessary to prescribe new and better treatments for health care.

About John Toussaint

John Toussaint, M.D., is the founder and CEO of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, and the CEO Emeritus of ThedaCare.


About The Author

ThedaCare’s picture


ThedaCare is a community health system consisting of five hospitals, numerous clinics, and related services. It is the third largest health care employer in Wisconsin. ThedaCare offers an environment that not only welcomes but also encourages innovative thinking and fresh approaches to today’s health care challenges. ThedaCare has improved the health of thousands of individuals. It knows this because it tracks its quality and constantly seeks to improve its care and services for the members of its communities. ThedaCare’s corporate office is in Appleton, Wisconsin.