Valedictories sound more or less the same. It's as if there exists some metaphysical blender into which nervous speakers pour the usual suspects -- "stand on the edge of a new beginning," "with the foundation you've learned here," "as I gaze out upon your hopeful faces," "for everything there is a season" -- add a little personal flavor, press "mix," and see what foams up. There may be slight variations in color and texture, but it's all foam just the same. Thinking about such speeches can make your eyes glaze over.
So when we here at Managed Care decided to look at the future, we set some rules: Try to avoid the word "millennium" and keep observations about where health care goes from here as concrete as possible. In short, stay with the game plan followed in each issue.
We asked prominent, thoughtful people in health care to discuss the future and -- hopefully -- their ruminations are as unlike valedictories as can be found. In fact, their essays are interesting because for the most part, they minimize generalities.
What about liability? Steve Wetzell of Minnesota's Buyers Health Care Action Group thinks the outcome of the Patients Bill of Rights debate may determine whether employers continue to offer health care benefits at all.
True care management? Peter Juhn, M.D., of Kaiser Permanente says without physician enthusiasm, it's hard to pull off.
Technology? The AAHP's Karen Ignagni says plans are finally in a position to help physicians provide effective population care, and this may help the industry mend its tarnished image.
Substance over style also triumphs in a peer-reviewed feature -- also forward looking -- that examines the economics of disease management. Peer-reviewed articles are now a regular part of this publication.
There's more -- pages and pages more. So, please, enjoy this snapshot of what's next. An opportunity like this only comes around ... every month or so.