I’ve worked in healthcare for most of my career, but never have I seen the pace of change that our healthcare system is currently experiencing. It touches all of us – healthcare providers, employers, insurers, policymakers and, most importantly, healthcare consumers.
A generation ago, the hospital was the site for most care. Today, it’s an outpatient center or even a walk-in clinic in a chain-store pharmacy. It might even be your home, aided by a smart phone app that can share symptoms and information with your clinician in real time.
Not too long ago, your insurance was undoubtedly through your employer and it was a fee-for-service model. Today, health insurance redesign has spawned tiered networks, narrow networks, high-deductible plans, flexible benefits plans and a nationwide online marketplace where you can comparison shop for insurance – if you can understand all of those new insurance products and terms.
And when I started my career in healthcare, the hospital’s role was to take in patients, place them in hospital beds, treat their conditions and make them better before discharging them home after a several-day stay. Today, the hospital coordinates with a network of post-acute providers and is tasked with taking care of the broader population, identifying the most dominant local health challenges and providing proactive care that keeps people out of those hospital beds.
It is stunning, this pace of change.
But there are constants that remain at the core of healthcare, and we explore some of them in this special section; the important place a hospital holds in its local community and the essential role – albeit modernized – that nurses play in our healthcare system. Healthcare, at its core, remains about caring for people, and despite all the changes, it always will.
Elizabeth “Betsy” Ryan, Esq.
President and CEO
New Jersey Hospital Association