After five years of exceptional leadership and numerous achievements as MHQP’s Board Chair, Meredith Rosenthal will be passing the torch to James Roosevelt, Jr., at the end of 2017. We thank her wholeheartedly for her tireless service to MHQP during these critical years. Here are some of Meredith’s reflections about her time as MHQP Board Chair.
What originally inspired you to take on the role of Board Chair for MHQP?
When the executive committee of MHQP invited me to consider being the Chair of the Board and to interview for that position, I was of course interested and flattered. I knew a lot about MHQP from my work in health policy. It was hard not to see MHQP as a leader in the field over the last 20 some-odd years. So, I was familiar and excited to get involved with this important organization.
What do you see as your most significant accomplishment as Board Chair?
When I joined the board, MHQP was beginning to outgrow its governance structure and didn’t quite have all the infrastructure in place to get to the next level. And so, I had the opportunity to work with the terrific people on the Board and in the leadership of MHQP to rethink the governance. It seemed to me at the time to be a relatively simple exercise, but it turned out to be a complex process of getting a board of about 19 people to essentially fire themselves and start all over again. So, in addition to helping keep the trains running on time, my first year-and-a-half was spent reimagining and rebuilding MHQP’s governance for future decades.
This work, of course, led us to our new governance structure where we have equal representation from the three councils, each representing of the key stakeholder voices now driving MHQP’s strategy – the Physician Council, the Health Plan Council, and the Consumer Health Council. In addition, we now have board members that are not aligned with stakeholders and bring key competencies such as entrepreneurship and marketing expertise. This structure puts MHQP in a unique position to be able to hear from all voices in the healthcare system and bring all perspectives to the table to find unique solutions to problems and challenges. I believe it positions MHQP very well for the future.
This process was such an incredible education for me and I’m so grateful to each of my fellow board members. I worked closely with the executive council, but the entire board really stepped up to this work. It speaks highly of their commitment to MHQP that no one really thought twice about putting the interests of MHQP first even when that meant losing “real estate” on the board.
What else are you proud of from your years as Chair?
Barbra and her team have accomplished an incredible amount and the Board, of course, has contributed to this work. Together, we have taken MHQP into a number of critical new areas. The consumer-facing website, healthcarecompassma.org, was a huge accomplishment that the Consumer Health Council drove. The Choosing Wisely campaign was an important initiative, getting patients and doctors to talk about the fact that more care isn’t always better care. And there have been a number of other important projects looking at the cost of care and the utilization of services, trying to understand why there is so much variation in the treatment of a particular condition when the patients are similar – why do we see such different practice patterns? And then, over the last several years, with a great deal of engagement from the Board, we have been working on a new strategy where patient engagement is at the heart of our work. As with everything else, the idea of that agenda is to bring all the stakeholders together to better understand how we can improve care that really serves what patient needs and preferences. And I’d be remiss if I failed to note the huge accomplishment of MHQP becoming the data provider to the Commonwealth of MA – the Center for Health Information and Analysis buys MHQP data to serve its statutory obligations to report quality data. And now the MassHealth contract has put MHQP front-and-center in ensuring the populations enrolled in the MassHealth program get the highest quality of care amidst a whole series of very complex health reforms. And Barbra and her wonderful team have undertaken many other new projects that we can all be very proud of.
What would you say are your take-away lessons from your time as MHQP’s Chair?
First, healthcare is not a zero-sum game for consumers, providers and payers. I think I really did think that when I first sat down with the board – I thought how is this ever going to work. But, in fact, MHQP proves that working together, consumers, providers and payers can actually make the pie bigger. So, whatever the division, we are all better for that collaboration.
The second thing I learned is that vigorous dissent is critical to decision-making. We do raise our voices at MHQP occasionally, but it’s not that we’re trying to drown out each other; it’s just that everybody in the room is so passionate.
And the third lesson is healthcare in Massachusetts is really an extended family. It’s what economists call a “repeated game” where you can’t cheat in one round because in the next round people will pay you back. Everybody understands that here – that today’s hospital CEO is MassHealth director next week, is consumer advocate the week after.
So those are my big lessons. I’m really grateful for having had this opportunity. For MHQP, the sky’s the limit. I see nothing but greatness ahead.