I have spent the past two rainy days with senior executives from the Adventist Healthcare System and a range of integrative medicine and community leaders as part of an effort called Next Century Health. Next Century Health is a visionary initiative of the Adventist Healthcare System, a large integrated network of hospitals, rehab facilities, home health, and other health services, to respond to the key trends and drivers transforming healthcare today in something more than a pro forma fashion. I, along with such notables as former HHS Secretary Dr. Louis Sullivan, former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, and former Senator Dr. Bill Frist, are committed members of the Next Century Health Leadership Council. Below are 5 reasons I think that Next Century Health may actually achieve its ambitious goal of advancing whole-person health and healing across the greater community.
- It’s in their culture. The Adventist HealthCare System has its roots in the Battlecreek, Michigan health resort of Kellogg’s corn flakes fame. It flourished with a focus on connected mind, body, and spirit for healing purposes. Discussions of whole-person health and well-being are authentically part of their DNA as an organization.
- They have a track record. The five-year and counting Center for Health Disparities established by Adventist is a create model of addressing tough issues, working with community leaders, and keeping long-term commitments.
- Vision before bricks and mortar. The system has several large-scale building projects in the works, including a massive White Oak Campus adjacent to the FDA. Integrating elements into every building and campus expansion plan that actively promote fitness, restoration, and connection from the start rather than as an afterthought greatly increases their chances of adoption and execution.
- Partnership, Structure, and Sustainability. The two days of discussion included very tactical and tangible planning for the best partnerships, structures, communication loops, and policies to sustain the effort for decades. This could have been so easily just a PR opportunity, but the time commitment of the hospital and system presidents to a multi-hour roll-up-your-sleeves brainstorming and options weighing lent a great deal of credibility.
- Stewardship. The second day of the Next Century Health meeting was a forum on Whole Person Health, Scientific Advancements & Ending Obesity with panelists including former AARP CEO Bill Novelli and Partnership for a Healthier America CEO Larry Soler. A robust conversation on the root causes and potential solutions (active, passive, and sanction-based) for the obesity crisis was held for several hours, but what impacted me most was the last comment of the morning, made by Dr. Alan Handysides, Director of the Department of Health Ministries, and a member of the Next Century Health Leadership Council, that core to the Adventist approach is the belief that stewardship of health has value. From roots that strong a mighty tree can grow.
Learn more about Next Century Health at http://www.nextcenturyhealth.org/