Does it look like Dr. Sanjay Gupta?
President Barak Obama has appointed a number of new members to his cabinet, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been approached to fill the position of Surgeon General. Dr. Gupta has yet to accept the position, and there are those that say that he lacks the administrative public health experience that would be desirable in order to lead the 6,000-member Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. That lack of administrative state and national experience didn’t seem to stop Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura or Ronald Regan from carrying out the imperatives of their respective positions.
What’s wrong with a capable “infotainer” planning, marketing/communicating and executing the planned massive reorganization of the U.S. health system as long as s/he can recruit qualified minds that are innovative and welcome change? When the baton is passed and change is expected, there must be a change in culture and that change doesn’t necessarily take place using the names and people with which we have become familiar in the past. In fact, I’m beginning to hear the term “generational shift” or “generational change”, and with this concept comes the expectation of change with both age and policy. Is a change agent someone “established,” someone that we all know and are familiar with?
Prior to the inauguration, then-President elect Obama asked Senator Tom Daschle to conduct a series of Town Hall Meetings across the country to generate discussion, ideas and, ultimately, recommendations to address prevention, primary care and access and controlling costs. This concept reflects the new President‘s approach to change in asking the people what they want and how to achieve it ( a consideration often ignored when the process of change is anticipated).
Consider also that we don’t have “a” healthcare system, we have several systems, e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, Indian Health Service, veterans programs, federal employees’ health insurance programs, SCHIP (State Children’s’ Health Insurance Programs), HMO’s, PPO’s and military employees and their dependents, and this fact alone describes the need for a new healthcare paradigm and probably a new type of healthcare leader with a new approach.
Is Dr. Gupta the best person for the job? Maybe and maybe not. What is needed is the ability to educate and communicate to our national community, in an informed manner, what the goals are to change the system(s), and how we as individuals can help to make it happen. I think that much that can make it happen is individual behavioral change, and that a refreshing “personality” using available good minds will be well-received in making change happen.
Paging Dr. Gupta – Dr. Sanjay Gupta's health blog at CNN.COM.
Office of the Surgeon General – the official US governmental website on the Surgeon General.
Medicine Cabinet from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart – the Daily Show's take on a possible Surgeon General Gupta.
About the Author
Dr. Flippin brings a wealth of experience, starting with her long tenure as an attending physician at the Cook County Hospital Emergency Department. She is currently Corporate Compliance and HIPAA Privacy Officer at major Chicago hospital.
She is a keynote speaker focusing on the health care crisis facing corporations today (http://www.flippinonhealth.com/).