REVIEWED BY SR. MARY JO MCGINLEY, RSM , M.S. ED, M.P.H.
The Future of Healthcare: Global Trends Worth Watching
By Andrew N. Garman, Tricia J. Johnson, Thomas C. Royer
Health Administration Press, 2011
80 pages; $46
Authors Garman, Johnson and Royer present a well organized study of a number of variables that will be operative in the global health care landscape in years to come, regardless of the role health reform plays in shaping health care in the United States. The book is short: 70 pages organized in eight succinct chapters, providing a quick overview for health care executives and board members. Many of the concepts are presented in both word and graphic form, helping to reinforce the outlines points.
The book begins with a look at information related to medical travel, a concept that is discussed in more detail in later pages. Recognizing that the abundance of information now disseminated via the Internet will increase exponentially, the authors caution us at the start about the need to demand transparent and accurate data and to remain vigilant in questioning sources and reliability of facts and figures quoted there. The authors also provide a review of concepts relevant to forms of innovation that can and likely will help to shape health care's future.
Planning and marketing executives, among others, will be wise to ponder the challenges and opportunities described throughout the book relative to the Internet — education that is transforming consumers into primary decision-makers about health care choices. Intended or not, the book's focus on the power of the Internet, coupled with the notion of the growth of medical travel, points to a future in which many health care services will be accessed in that way — not only by leaving one's country for treatment, but also by accessing services virtually.
Readers will benefit from learning about some of the successes of our global neighbors and becoming aware of the threats and opportunities shared across our world when it comes to being prepared to provide health care for future populations.
One weakness in the book is a chapter titled "Convergence and Harmonization," which seems to presuppose that the reader knows and understands the work of CHRISTUS Health in Mexico. (One of the authors, Thomas Royer, is a former CEO of CHRISTUS.) Some readers may have benefited from a brief explanation of that work.
On the other hand, moving toward convergence and harmonization when moving across borders presents a whole new and daunting challenge. Garman et al. did not caution future leaders that such initiatives require a great deal of experience, cultural immersion and mutual dialogue, steps that will need to be understood and addressed by all decision-makers involved.
The model for decision-making presented in an appendix can be a valuable tool for strategic planning at any organization. Groups that focus on envisioning their future and developing steps to achieve it will certainly be more likely to survive than others.
Two concepts touched on that would be worthy of deeper analysis are the principle of solidarity, the underpinning of human interaction and social decisions in much of the world, and the continuing threat of growing income inequalities. I believe that executives and governance leaders in U.S. Catholic health care could change the future of global health care, especially for the poor and underserved, if they began to envision a future based on solidarity and equality.
SR. MARY JO MCGINLEY, RSM, is executive director of Global Health Ministry, Catholic Health East, Newtown Square, Penn.
Copyright © 2011 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
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