IHI World Cafe, March 2014
Photo courtesy of Ted Eytan, MD MS MPH www.tedeytan.com

A group of 40 leaders in health and health care recently gathered for a World Café to dialogue creatively about audacious goals for health globally and to advance a growing shift from improving health care to more proactively pursuing health.  It was part of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s 15th International Summit on Improving Patient Care in the Office Practice and the Community.

Sitting at tables draped with red and white checkered café cloths, the first round of questions was introduced and the room erupted into animated conversation.  Imagine competing for ideas for global health, each one bold, lofty and full of hope for well-being for all.  Personally it was the sweetest competition I’ve ever been part of.

Here are the top four audacious goals for health from that evening:

  • That there will be a shared social contract about health that guides decisions in all sectors of society.
  • That 20% of health care spending will shift to primary care and community health by 2020.
  • That 100,000,000 people move from forgotten and vulnerable to healthy and thriving.
  • That 10,000 communities will be created where all preventable health problems are eliminated.

And a plug for one of my favorites that didn’t make the top four:

  • That the potential of nations, populations, communities, and individuals will be measured by their health and well-being.

Soma Stout, MD, co-chair of the Summit and one of the organizer’s of the World Cafe, VP, Patient Centered Medical Home Development at Cambridge Health Alliance and Co-Director of the Leadership Institute at the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care, puts it this way:

“We cannot achieve a dramatic improvement in health without all of us…changing our belief about what is possible, and going for it.  This is not a movement that can belong to any organization—it requires our collective action and has the space for all of us to contribute meaningfully, in ways big and small that make sense for us, to create health.  We all hold part of the puzzle. “

The Center for Courage & Renewal was one of five sponsors of the evening, along with IHI, Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care, Southcentral Foundation, and Cambridge Health Alliance.  In our mission to support people in creating a more just, compassionate, and healthy society, we are committed to supporting IHI in leading a courageous quest for global health.

Last week’s World Café was the beginning of a wider initiative from IHI called Escape Velocity,” borrowing a notion from rocket science of the force it takes to break free of gravitational pull, in this case to move from where we’ve been in health and health care to where we might go if we turn our efforts towards a broader perspective of health and well-being.

In the Summit’s opening keynote address, Derek Feeley, IHI’s executive vice president and former Director General for Health and Social Care and Chief Executive of the National Health Service in Scotland, asked the 1200 attendees, “What’s your audacious goal for health?”

And within minutes over 300 goals were put forth. As Derek walked through the huge conference center ballroom reading from cards on which people had written their goals, my eyes welled up.  Personal truths and hopes for a better life together were pouring from people’s hearts.

This is courageous leadership in action.  And it’s just the beginning. IHI is inviting a worldwide effort to make the “seemingly impossible, possible.”

For the month of March, IHI is inviting all of us to submit any number of goals for health we have—on their website, by email or tweet.  So please search your heart, connect with your integrity, ask yourself what is most important to you for our health and well-being, and then add your voice.

Spread the word to others near and far.

What’s your audacious goal for health? We want to know. Submit your idea here.

Share this on: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone