Guest Post from Deborah L. Benzil, MD, FACS, FAANS
Member, AANS Board of Directors
Chair, AANS/CNS Communications and Public Relations Committee
Columbia University Medical Center
Mt Kisco, New York
Daniel K. Resnick, MD
Past President, Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Professor, Vice Chairman and Program Director
Department of Neurosurgery University of Wisconsin
Philip Glass, born in 1937 in Baltimore, is one of the most prolific and successful musicians of the 20th century. He has written for opera, musical theater, choirs, dance, chamber music, film, and symphony. He was recently honored as the Michael L.J. Apuzzo Lecturer during the Congress of Neurological Surgeons’ Annual Meeting 2014. As related in Homily #1: The Importance of Being “Tuned” Glass’ dialogue with CNS President Dr. Daniel Resnick and Dr. Arun P. Amar associated at least two critical homilies for the current morass known as healthcare reform. This was what he related about his own experience with collaboration, creativity and success.
During his career, he tried very hard to continually reinvent things by working with others. During such a collaborative process, he said he would meet someone he did not know. This would lead to the development of a problem that had not been solved before. One solution would be to dissolve the new collaboration and move on. However, Glass explained that he tried to allow his problem to bring the rediscovery of the crucial resources needed that allow one to move from a thing not known to a thing known. In this way, something new happens; there is inspiration from what someone else brings to the table. What has been the result? Einstein on the Beach, Koyaaniqatsi, Symphony No 9, Metamorphosis, Music in 12 Parts — to name just a few.
Hum, inspiration, collaboration, creativity — what do these have to do with healthcare? Everything! As we have traveled the road of trying to address the many challenges the U.S. healthcare system faces today, those who have led (representing sectors such as hospitals, pharma, device makes, and insurance companies) and those who have set policy (elected on both sides of the aisle and employed in government) have failed at true collaboration. What others — including patients and physicians — bring to the table is seen as threatening. The resources that created this great system have been forgotten (physician morale is at historic lows and innovation in medicine has slowed tremendously) and the resources that can help us bridge from the past to the future are being constantly undermined. It is time to turn back — not to the old system — but to a time where we committed to collaboration and celebration of the value that diversity should bring to solving these critical problems. We must always remember: in the end, doctors are the ones that provide the care patients need, while the rest of the system should support that most basic of all resources.