Restoring health to healthcare

Dr. Lou Flaspohler, a rheumatologist based in Cincinnati, is working to restore health to healthcare and, on Oct. 29, he will cohost the first nationwide online seminar designed to do just that.

It’s a project that’s been nearly a decade in the making.

Healing Healthcare: The Free Market & Lean Thinking as an Antidote will run from 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. The conference is open to everyone, with the overall goal of creating a community of employers, medical providers, and healthcare brokers who are looking to create a new model for healthcare that focuses on the patient’s wellness over insurance companies and billing.

Jim Huntzinger of Lean Frontiers, a company that gathers the country’s top thought leaders through summits, workshops, and online learning, will host the seminar, along with additional cohost James Dunavant, the executive director of the Free Market Medical Association (FMMA) and director of development for The Mises Institute.

Dr. Eleanor Glass, a member of the Direct Primary Care (DPC) community and cofounder of Integrative Family Care, will speak, along with national, grassroots leaders in the field, including: Jay Kempton and Dr. Keith Smith of the FMMA; Skip Steward, chief improvement officer at The Baptist Memorial Health Care System; and David Contorno, founder of E Powered Benefits, which is helping create the bridge between employers and providers.

“[Jim Huntzinger] puts on national summits and has a family of employers all over the nation that are driving these healthy communities,” says Dr. Flaspohler. “Those are the organizations I want to work with. [Huntzinger] wants the DPC community directly tied into this. The healthiest operating systems need to sit on the healthiest economic foundations.”

Flaspohler describes these places as service-led, purpose driven organizations that push control and accountability to lowest practical level.

“You want to give responsibility at the lowest level,” he says. “In these organizations, it’s bottom up. My role as leader is to clear hurdles for employees. In general, you’re allowed to make mistakes because that’s how we grow. But I still need accountability.”

If someone sees him doing something that they don’t think is right, he continues, it is their right to question him.

As he’s tried to find who’s making a positive difference in healthcare, he looks at people who follow the service-led, purpose-driven model, like the DCP community, which allows us all to own our own healthcare while still holding doctors accountable.

“That’s what I call the healthy economic foundation,” he says.

The question he has is: How do we put this together and create this community of people who are doing it right?

The pieces and the players are already there, he says. DCP doctors know that family practice physicians are trained in promoting wellbeing, while most of the healthcare community is trained in disease care.

“Ideally, we want to promote wellbeing,” says Flaspohler. “If you have this, you’ve got cost avoidance.”

This idea came to him about six years ago after he sat down with a group of eight doctors and questioned them on the strongest predictors of wellbeing. No one had an answer, and there was no information in any medical journals they searched. So the group expanded to about 20 people — including professors and nutritionists — who eventually decided that meaningful purpose and positive relationships are the most important aspects to someone’s wellbeing.

“When I look at the healthiest operating systems [in companies and businesses], what they are nurturing is meaningful purpose which, in and of itself, is nurturing healthy relationships,” he says.

That’s one reason employers are invited to join the conference — if companies start promoting wellness in all areas, like waste reduction, on-site gardens, and cooking classes — they will be closer to having a healthy operating system.

“The gist of conference is trying to create a community — what I would love to see come out of it is to create a community of purpose-driven, service-led organizations working together with the DPC doctors, working together with people like the Free Market Medical Association doctors, and just creating a thriving community,” he says. “But, more importantly than the healthcare side of it is how do we really start driving healthcare upstream.”

To learn more, register for the free conference here.

Read more articles by Jessica Esemplare.

Jessica Esemplare is the managing editor of Soapbox Cincinnati and a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Shortly after completing her degree in magazine journalism, she began covering local and regional topics at The Cincinnati Herald and, later, as an editor at Ohio Magazine. Her writing has also been featured in U.S. News and World Report.