How do we convince academic medical centers to lead change?

Darrell Kirch, M.D., president & CEO, AAMC, says change is good. But how do we get AMCs to lead the way?


I don't know that we've ever, in the course of human history, designed anything that was perfect and could last forever. We need to be ready for change.

As the old joke goes, people will say, "Change is good. You go first." What I see being different now is the people not only acknowledge that change is important and it's good, but more and more of them are willing to go first.

I see groups of institutions forming coalitions that will work on big change, transformational efforts, in their own institution. When that starts to happen, it will ripple throughout academic medicine, and healthcare in general.

The issue isn't competing against each other. The issue is we all have very similar mission statements. We want to improve the health of the public, and that's a big challenge.

Sadly, in many ways, the U.S. healthcare system is broken. We have great medicine. We have great surgeries, great medications and tests. But the system isn't working. And so, more and more what I see the people at this meeting thinking about isn't, "Where do I stand relative to anybody else," but, "Are we innovating? Are we changing ourselves in a way that we really can start to improve the health of the country."

We bring together people from all parts of the medical school, research, teaching, the administration, together with the health system. It's a place where the community really can come together and share ideas. I would argue there's never been a time when we need more new ideas to help us meet the challenges we face.

People who are coming to this meeting are going to leave more ready to push for change, to exert leadership, to argue for innovation on their home campus. All boats will rise together, and eventually we will create a tipping point where I think people will look at academic medical centers in this country ten years from now and say, "We were in trouble when it came to healthcare, and they led the solution.”