While he retired from IBM and the PCC almost two years ago, the trusted healer, leader and provocateur that is Paul continues his life’s work—now lending his experience, voice and sherpa skills as an advisor to health care organizations and boards that are bringing forth a new generation of technology solutions to equip a new age of health care.
Last year, several health care leaders embarked on a journey to ignite a new movement around person-centered medication management called the GTMRx Institute (Get the Medications Right) to fix a big issue that is costing 275,000 people their lives each year and adds $528 billion of waste to our collective annual health care bill. These costs happen because our health care delivery and reimbursement system are not set up to answer one simple question, “Is this the right medicine for this person?”
The day I called Paul with this idea, he said without hesitation, “I’m in. Whatever I can do, I’m here to help.” And with that, Paul joined three others on a board of four that quickly became a board of nine senior executives from like-minded organizations sharing the same passion and commitment. This important work builds off early work done at the PCC recognizing the opportunity for team-based primary care as an important driver to get the medications right.
As during the early years of the medical home movement, we find ourselves living in a time of chaos and social and political divisiveness. But these headwinds are not insurmountable. At the GTMRx Institute it is our view that the primary care setting offers the greatest opportunity to optimize medication use. But success requires team-based, patient-centered care models that recognize appropriately skilled clinical pharmacists as medication experts who work in collaborative practice with physicians and other providers. It also requires access to clinical information at the point-of-care along with insights offered by advanced and complimentary diagnostics.
As we at GTMRx progress down this path, I’m grateful for what Pelino recounts as Paul’s “sobering voice” and “steady illumination.” We benefit from his ability to focus like a laser on a health care crusade, “journeying to all points of the compass as well as setting a goal of making those small, persistent, and sometimes painstaking wins happen as soon as possible,” (Pelino, p. 84).
I’m also grateful to others who worked alongside Paul to advance the medical home model, offering us a model for bringing about sustainable change. Pelino writes in his book when pitching their care team model ProvenCare to primary care providers, Geisinger offered a confident, clear and direct value proposition around primary care, “Here’s a much better way. Here’s the proof it will be better. Here’s who is already doing it. Let us know when you are ready,” (Pelino, p. 153).
It is in this spirit of the leaders—and sherpas—like Paul who have come before us that we will build on the success of so many to bring about fundamental change through a systematic approach to medication use in order to answer that one simple question correctly every time. I wish you a wonderful season of reflection, gratitude and renewal—and the fortune of having a sherpa by your side!