Transforming Health Care in the Information Age
For most of history, health care was centered around the doctor’s office or hospital. It was the era of the lone practitioner, the omniscient physician to whom patients turned to treat their ailments. That was the industrial age of medicine.
Today, health care is much more complex. The proliferation of information available to physicians and to their patients has fundamentally shifted the locus of information and power to patients. In the information age of medicine, we must optimize the use of information, technology, tools, and teams. We need to turn masses of patient data, science, and clinical evidence into clinical knowledge. This information must be available to patients, physicians, and care teams. And they must have access to technology and tools to make the right thing easier to do.
Health care must transform in order to meet the challenges of the information age and to address the crisis of affordability and value in health care. We must become a learning industry. We need to draw from all parts of the industry; harnessing our collective knowledge, working collaboratively, and learning together. We can’t treat our way out of the health care crisis. We must learn our way out of it.
Jack Cochran, MD, FACS, is the executive director of The Permanente Federation, headquartered in Oakland, California. The Permanente Federation represents the national interests of the regional Permanente Medical Groups, which employ 16,000 physicians who care for 9 million Kaiser Permanente members. Kaiser Permanente is composed of the Permanente Medical Groups, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals.
Prior to his appointment to The Permanente Federation in October 2007, Dr. Cochran served as executive medical director, president, and chairman of the board of the Colorado Permanente Medical Group (CPMG) for Kaiser Permanente. He began his career with CPMG in 1990 as the chief of plastic surgery and founder of the plastic surgery department. Dr. Cochran began his medical career in clinical and private practice in Denver, Colorado. He went on to serve at Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital as chief of plastic surgery, chair of surgical services, and president of medical staff, and at Exempla Healthcare as a board member and chairman of its quality committee.
Dr. Cochran serves as a member of the board of directors of the American Medical Group Association, the board of directors of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, and the UCSF Global Health Group Advisory Board. For more than 20 years, he has volunteered his reconstructive surgery and consulting services in third world countries, aiding underserved populations in Nicaragua, the Philippines, Ecuador, Tanzania, and Nepal. Dr. Cochran is also a past president of the Consortium for Community Centered Comprehensive Child Care (C6), a foundation that has built hospitals in east Africa. He is a vocal advocate for nurses and oversees the Lois and John Cochran Education Award, an annual scholarship given to oncology nurses at the Lutheran Medical Center in Denver, Colorado.
As a frequent speaker and author on a broad range of health care topics including health information systems, health care delivery system reform, and integrated care delivery, Dr. Cochran’s insights gained from decades of work on the front lines of health care provide a unique perspective. He has actually participated in implementing many of the priorities called for in health reform, including Kaiser Permanente’s electronic health record, the largest successful non-governmental clinical information systems deployment in the world. He addressed reform at the 2010 National Governors Association Annual Meeting, testified before the Congressional Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in 2009, and presented at the Senate Finance Committee’s 2008 Health Reform Summit.
Dr. Cochran earned his medical degree from the University of Colorado and served residencies at Stanford University Medical Center and the University of Wisconsin Hospital. He is board certified in otolaryngology (head and neck surgery) and in plastic and reconstructive surgery.