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25th National Forum: My Tribe

By Maureen Bisognano | Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The following is part of a series of guest posts celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the IHI National Forum. Helen Bevan is Chief Transformation Officer with the NHS Horizons Team, working with NHS Improving Quality.

Helen Bevan

My first IHI National Forum was in 1996, and I still get excited for each one, each year. When you are a change agent committed to improving health care systems, it can feel a little lonely. Not everyone welcomes change. The status quo and inertia are powerful. But when I’m on the plane, traveling from far away, I feel as though I’m going to see “my tribe.” The National Forum is a life-changing event. I meet people there who, like me years ago, are just starting out on their improvement journeys. At the Forum though, they become part of a worldwide movement. That feeling of belonging and being part of something global has never left me – it’s one of the many reasons I return to the Forum every year.

A fun thing about having been to so many Forums is seeing the changes from year to year. I remember the 2008 Forum well. President Obama had just been elected and everyone there was excited about the promise of reform and transformation. As someone from the UK, that Forum felt a little US-centric, which is understandable. But then it changed again and in the years since, the National Forum has felt increasingly global. Another change I’ve noticed is the move from focusing primarily on hospitals and acute care to focusing on the Triple Aim, on population health, integrated care, and care in people’s homes and communities.

The Forum is always a huge boost to my batteries. Coming at the end of a long year, it helps re-charge you, and reminds everyone of why they’re passionate about improvement. It’s a unique opportunity to meet thousands of like-minded people. And it’s a unique opportunity to have access to the world’s best teachers of improvement. The sessions are great because of the talent, wisdom, and enthusiasm the presenters have for the topics they’re teaching, and for the audience they’re presenting to. 

I’ve never lost my enthusiasm for the Forum, even after 17 of them. I enjoy the constancy – such as Maureen Bisognano’s ever-present push to make health care truly person-centered; and all the innovative approaches – the Forum is always the best place to learn about the newest stuff in improvement.

As I think about the future of health, health care, and improvement, I think we need to take advantage of new technologies such as social media and new ways to connect people virtually. There are so many people out there who can and should contribute, both to the Forum and health care improvement in general. When people connect in greater and greater numbers, they create a magnet that draws even more people. This is a real opportunity for all of us.

See you at the National Forum!

-Helen Bevan

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