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Setting Audacious Goals to Achieve “Escape Velocity” and Improve Health around the Globe

By John Gauthier | Friday, April 4, 2014

Derek Feeley, IHI's Executive Vice President, authored this post for IHI.org. He invites you to follow him on Twitter @DerekFeeleyIHI


As I write this, I'm getting ready to see many of you at the International Forum in Paris. I look forward to our several days of learning together, especially as we face so many similar challenges as a global community of improvers. There is the ongoing work of optimizing our health care systems to deliver safe, person-centered care while driving down unnecessary waste and costs. We also must design far more effective ways to meet the health needs and ambitions of whole populations. What's the best care for people with chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity? How might we intervene at earlier stages of life to help children and families adopt healthier lifestyles? What are the most innovative and compassionate ways to support aging populations in their homes and communities? And, what are the best ways to partner with patients to achieve health, using community assets and resources? Fortunately, we’re starting to have some answers… answers that draw upon work and innovation in multiple countries, not just any single place.



Here in the US, over 7 million Americans have just gained health insurance, many for the first time, through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Yet health care providers are keenly aware that the ACA is about reform of health care insurance most of all — the system itself awaits transformation. Public and private payers, including states and municipalities, employers, and consumers, are starting to coalesce around the idea that what’s needed is something that’s fundamentally about health more than illness; something that’s designed to create healthy individuals and communities, and that treats patients at the point of care as whole persons who can contribute to the healing and decision-making process.

LEARN MORE: Leading Population Health Transformation, Feb. 22-24, 2017, in San Diego, California

IHI believes the Triple Aim continues to be our North Star for this journey, but everywhere we turn improvers tell us about the difficulty of resisting the gravitational pull of existing delivery and payment systems. That’s the impetus for our putting forward the notion of Escape Velocity, which we first shared at IHI’s International Summit on Improving Patient Care in the Office Practice and the Community in March. Starting with my keynote address, we asked attendees there, “If you could set an audacious goal for health, what would it be?” The audience engaged either by tweeting or filling out cards made available. Right off the bat we received over 300 suggestions that suggested some powerful, uniting themes:

  •      Above all, work to achieve equity and access.
  •      Put the emphasis on children and reap the lifelong benefits.
  •      Drive person-empowerment, responsibility, partnerships in health, and person-centered care.
  •      Adopt community-based, holistic health including fitness, nutrition, and behavioral health.

Now, we invite our colleagues in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, in the Asia Pacific, and in Latin America, to contribute your own audacious goals for health. Take a look at the comments we’ve received so far. We’re now capturing additional bold, aspirational goals via our special twitter feed: #IHIEscapeVelocity. You can also email us your thoughts: EscapeVelocity@ihi.org


Thank you for contributing to the spring season of audacious goals for health!

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