As a result, there will be more of an emphasis on the concept of interdisciplinary teamwork. This is going to be a challenge for the education systems because the health industry has to educate people for interdisciplinary action rather than educating people in silos, says Dowling. "We are very good at educating people in silos and then telling them after they graduate that they have to work in teams."
To fill in this educational gap, North Shore-LIJ has developed programs and partnered with others. "We have tens of thousands of people who go through training in our organization every year," says Dowling. North Shore-LIJ also works very closely with medical schools by creating its own programs, and it has partnered with Hofstra University to establish the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, which will open in 2011. "At the end of the day it is the people who make the difference and who understand that they are not working in individual silos," says Dowling. This often appears as one of the soft issues and not that serious, he says. "But, quite frankly, you can have the best technology, but if you don't have the right people, it just won't work."
The opportunity for improvement is extraordinary and leadership is essential to making it happen, says Dowling. Senior healthcare executives and health systems have to be accountable for outcomes and the continuum of care, he says.
"Leadership is about believing there can be a better future and making sure you move your organization in that direction," says Dowling. "If we do that, I think we'll have the opportunity to change how care is delivered and people will believe that they are getting true value for their healthcare in terms of quality."