NAHSE 2019: Exploring Healthcare’s Promise
By Keshia Harris
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) 34th Annual Educational Conference in Washington, D.C. The United States capital city served as a perfect backdrop for this year’s theme: “Healthcare for All: The Politics of the Promise.” With the 2020 U.S. presidential election quickly approaching and healthcare as a major topic of discussion, the conference could not have taken place at a better time.
The event had an amazing group of speakers from both inside and outside of healthcare. Each session, workshop, and keynote provided valuable insight and wisdom into the current state of our country’s healthcare and what the future may hold. Throughout the conference, I heard common themes that I took with me as I departed.
- Social Determinants: In the year 2019, a person’s life expectancy or ability to have a successful pregnancy should not be based on their zip code or race. In many cities across the country, two people born on the same day one mile from each other may have completely different experiences with our healthcare system. Conference speakers agreed that, in order to have a healthier population, we must have the tough conversations around social determinants of health and identify ways to address these disparities in our communities to reach health equity.
- Accessibility: Healthcare has to meet patients where they are, especially those that are the most vulnerable. In the past, healthcare professionals focused only on what happened within their hospital walls. Today, we know that the key to better health is the patient’s access to care. Many hospital and health system leaders spoke on how they are improving this through partnerships within the community and leveraging many of today’s technologies such as mobile apps and telehealth to be accessible to patients.
- Organizational Agility: Innovation will be important for the future of healthcare. With other industries continuing to challenge and disrupt the current state, hospitals and health systems that come out on top will be the ones that are agile and accepting of change.
- Diversity: Representation is important. If we want our communities to thrive and be healthier, we need to ensure that our workforce reflects our communities. Many leaders shared how diversifying their workforce improved outcomes as well as patient experience – a patient having a nurse or doctor who looks like them could be the key difference between a positive or negative experience. It is important, therefore, to proactively seek out diversity for organizations and develop this talent to be the future leaders of healthcare.
- Mental Illness: Despite much attention and great strides, mental health remains a challenge for the U.S. Suicide rates throughout the country for multiple demographics continue to increase. Tamika Tremaglio, Managing Principal with Deloitte, discussed the importance of viewing mental illness the same way we see physical illness – we must destigmatize mental illness and help each patient get the care to live a better, high quality life.
As a second-time NAHSE attendee, I enjoyed the opportunity to connect and network with some of the most prominent leaders in healthcare and the opportunity to participate in NAHSE’s programs. I look forward to next year’s conference in Atlanta.