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Column | Leadership

Funny the way it is: Reflecting on healthcare industry dislocations

Column | Leadership

Funny the way it is: Reflecting on healthcare industry dislocations


Welcome to second wave of COVID-19, or maybe it’s part two of the first wave, or maybe it’s the first wave twice removed. It is hard to keep track in this Groundhog Day moment we keep experiencing. I think we can be assured of one thing: The virus isn’t going away until we have herd immunity, an effective vaccination or, more likely, a combination of both. We will come out of it, but that is hard to see right now. Funny the way it is.

As promised, I am using a song in each column to make a point or two, bring clarity to something or just give you a break from all that swirls around us. The Dave Matthews song, “Funny the Way It Is,” stirs thoughts and emotions in me, as a good song should. “Funny the way it is, if you think about it …. somebody’s going hungry, and someone else is eating out …. one kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out …. .” 

These dislocations emanating from the song should not be lost on any of us. As healthcare providers and those who support the delivery of healthcare, we wake up to this reality every day. Why do we spend 50% of all healthcare dollars on chronic care? Why do we have an obesity epidemic in this country? Why am I able to stay relatively healthy (knock on wood) while others struggle with their health? It is not as simple as one person making good choices and others not making good choices. Understanding health equity, or rather health inequity and the origins of it, will go a long way to helping us improve our healthcare cost problem.

At HFMA, the pandemic certainly triggered many dislocations in how we serve our members. So much of our HFMA experience in the past was driven by in-person experiences. Going back to the song, “[It] must have been much harder when there was no bridge, just water …. now the world is small, remember how it used to be…. .” 

The pandemic happened without regard for anyone’s hopes or wishes. But life keeps moving forward. Old things fall away, and new things replace them. We are likely somewhere in the middle of winter with spring just around the corner. New growth is coming.

At HFMA, there was a lightning-quick pivot to virtual conferences and virtual experiences. Will we ever get together in person again? Yes, of course we will. Will it be just like it used to be? Not likely. A pandemic has gripped us. New growth is coming. Funny the way it is.

About the Author

Michael M. Allen, FHFMA, CPA,

is CFO, OSF Healthcare System, Peoria, Ill., and 2020-21 Chair of HFMA.

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