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Last week, I was in my old stomping grounds in Washington, DC meeting with members of the Obama Administration, Congressional leaders and medical professionals and staff from some of America’s top children’s hospitals as part of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital’s delegation to The Woodmark Group Children’s Forum.

The Forum had a central focus on how high impact philanthropy can transform children’s health, giving every child the opportunity for a healthy start in life. And, has it ever. In fact, since inception philanthropists supporting Woodmark’s network of children’s hospitals have donated more than $6 billion to assist researchers in advancing technical innovations – from ending childhood cancer to assessing communications patterns to improve clinical excellence and even developing injectable oxygen to reduce brain injury .

With today’s rapid pace of innovation, it’s almost impossible these days for disruptors to go it alone. This is especially true in healthcare where constantly rising costs, changing disease patterns, and the use of sophisticated technology for diagnosis and treatment have made it virtually impossible to imagine any single actor solving a complex social problem without public-private partnership. At the end of the day, doctors, nurses and specialists have a single focus – to save lives. Many, however, become researchers to streamline processes, improve outcomes and cure disease. 

Private-public partnerships in healthcare take many forms – – from government backed research investment, to local partnerships between physicians and non-profits or even accelerator programs that provide seed funding and mentorship to researchers – but the most successful have a few things in common:

  • Patients come first – Patients and families are incorporated into the design and creation of innovative approaches so they are active participants in managing their care.
  • Shared value is a central objective – Economic value, such as cost reduction, and social value, such as improving outcomes, are equally important.
  • Failure is an option – A shared vision, common measurements, coordinated approach, open communication are important components of a partnership as an acceptance that failure and pivots are natural while experimenting and learning.
  • New approaches intersect the establishment – Institutional processes and funding can reduce review cycles and gain acceptance when appropriately integrated into research study business plans.

Hubert Humphrey once said, “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” I would take a new spin on this
to say the moral test of a society is how it works together to address the most complex societal issues of our time. I
f – as an society – we pool our resources and bring our core assets together, we can tackle topics that impact us all and affect the pace of change at an even more rapid speed than going it alone.

Private investment in children’s hospitals has revolutionized pediatric medicine and improved the lives of countless number of children.

Learn more about America’s children’s hospitals and how you can help at https://www.childrenshospitals.org/.

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