I had always imagined that this would be a time of sharply mixed feelings. But it isn’t turning out that way. It feels more like the start of an exciting new chapter—not just for me, but more importantly for JHI, as the organization works to bolster its position as a successful pioneer in the field of global collaborative health care.
Who would have thought all those years ago when we started JHI that we’d make it this far? We knew what we hoped to do: establish close working relationships with medical centers, health ministries and investors around the world so that we could help improve the quality, safety and access to a broad spectrum of advanced medical care for many populations.
But knowing where you want to be and recognizing what path to take to get there are two different things. There was so much we didn’t know—things that no one in the world knew—such as what health care consumers in different regions wanted, what sort of finance and investment approaches would fly, what it would take to facilitate effective knowledge transfer, how transnational staffing needs might be met, what sort of organization could best address these needs, and much more.
It’s tempting to look back now and claim we knew what we were doing as we tackled and overcame these challenges. But the truth is we often felt we had little idea what we were doing, and when we did think we knew what we were doing, we often were wrong. We took plenty of risks and made hundreds of mistakes.
But thanks to the commitment of Johns Hopkins Medicine to an international mission, to the determination of our collaborators worldwide to making progress, and to a talented and dedicated group of personnel here at JHI, we kept at it. We learned from our mistakes, and we started to rack up our first successes, and then more and bigger successes.
Now our collaborations range across some 20 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and North America—among them, the most ambitious health care projects ever undertaken in those parts of the world. We see a constant flow of our clinician-leader colleagues at Johns Hopkins Medicine to these many collaborations, matched by a flow of clinicians from our collaborators to Baltimore for observerships, seminars and training. And we are welcoming unprecedented numbers of patients with complex care needs from afar to our Baltimore and other U.S. hospitals, even as we help other countries build the health care systems they need to eventually meet all patients’ needs locally.
We have made a real contribution to health care globally. I know we here at JHI and all of Johns Hopkins Medicine have benefited from what our collaborators and international patients have shared with us, including their cultures, their experiences and insights, and their ability to challenge our preconceptions and to touch us with their unique perspectives. And we are thrilled and encouraged that other academic medical centers here in the U.S. and elsewhere are joining us in this international mission.
And yet I can also say with confidence that this effort is barely getting started. It is a nascent industry that is just now starting to attract a wide range of new players. The distribution around the globe of top-notch health care has been lopsided, and while the global collaborative health care industry is starting to work hard to pull everyone up to the same high bar, it has a long way to go.
Given the big improvements in health care now actively sought by so many less-fully industrialized countries, it’s not surprising that health care industry growth rates are on average around three times higher in that world than they are in the U.S. and Europe. I believe that reason alone will ensure that much of the real action in health care in the U.S. and Europe will be in global collaborative health care. We’ve seen that sort of explosive growth here at JHI, and there’s every reason to believe it will only continue to accelerate.
I’d be kidding myself to think that my absence here will interrupt that acceleration. I’m more of the mind that the new leadership will find new opportunities, and new ways of capitalizing on them, that will take JHI even further than I would have dared imagine. I’m proud of my contribution, but I’m more proud of the people at JHI and Johns Hopkins Medicine who have made everything happen, and who will continue to push the boundaries of this exciting young industry to the world’s benefit.
Moving forward, by the way, includes the continuation of this JHI blog, though it will be others here doing the posting. (I’ll be continuing my own blogging here.) I, for one, intend to follow those posts closely, and I hope you will, too.3 Comments