IPA Bulletin: VOLUME 36, NO. 4 • DECEMBER 2019
William Reichman, IPA President
Dear Colleagues and IPA members,
As the new IPA President, I want to thank each of you for your myriad contributions to our organization, your professional dedication to enhance the well-being of our patients and their families, your commitment to advance research and create new knowledge in our field, and your many efforts to recruit and train the next generation of geriatric mental health care professionals. Let’s together extend thanks to our Immediate Past President Mary Sano for her inspired and remarkably effective leadership of IPA during a particularly challenging period. Due to Mary’s singular and collaborative efforts, we are now on a much more solid financial footing and the future for our organization is brighter than it has been for several years.
The opportunities for IPA are increasingly evident and truly exciting. We are crossing the threshold of a new age of innovation in which the multidisciplinary practice of geriatric mental health, and healthcare in general, will undergo revolutionary and, at times, disruptive changes. As I referenced in my Keynote Address at our recent Congress in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, there are emerging global trends that will have a substantial impact on our field. Some of these trends include the healthcare application of “big data” and artificial intelligence, technological advances including consumer wearable devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual/digital health care delivery platforms, and the promise of genomics and personalized medicine. Other trends to consider include an ongoing emphasis by policy planners and payers on “population based” healthcare delivery. This portends that we will encounter the continued development of vertical and horizontal integration of various providers on the healthcare continuum (hospitals, clinics, individual practitioners, residential facilities, day programs, and home care services). These integrated systems of care will be subject to “value-based” reimbursement methods where the effective promotion of preventative health and wellness focused patient behaviors will be as important as the successful treatment of disease and disability. In many jurisdictions, we may also experience the availability of healthcare services in novel, low cost multipurpose settings, such as retail stores. Truly innovative and disruptive entities such as the large technology and data companies (e.g. Google, Microsoft, Huawei, Alibaba, and Amazon) are increasingly entering the healthcare space.
Many of these emerging trends will likely provide opportunities for us to become more effective in our work. However, many of us will be challenged to adapt to very new ideas and will be expected to substantially alter our existing practices of mental health care delivery. How, as a multidisciplinary field, will we respond to these trends? Charles Dickens famously said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, or the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
I think each of us as individual contributors and collectively, as the field of geriatric mental health, have a decision to make. Do we wait and see how these trends will affect our professional lives once they arrive? Or, do we try to predict in advance how these trends might fundamentally alter how we will care for our patients? Alternatively, can we proactively contribute to and shape these trends so that they truly create value for our patients by enhancing our work? A famous management guru, Peter Drucker, is credited with stating “the best way to predict the future is to create it.”
IPA has an opportunity to support our members through these changes and to lead the efforts of our field to effectively respond to the coming waves of innovation. Excitingly, through IPA’s supporting efforts, we can create a better future by proactively collaborating with policy makers, healthcare funders, life sciences firms, digital health and other technology developers, and of course, our patients and their families.
To do this effectively, we must continue to strengthen IPA to enhance its impact. At our recent board retreat, we agreed on three critical strategic goals: Enhance the Value of Membership, Offer Innovative Products and Services, and Increase Advocacy and Public Awareness. We are creating three allied strategic taskforces, each led by a board member and composed of representatives from our broader membership. Each taskforce will set specific objectives to be achieved under each of these goals, select the highest impact initiatives to advance these objectives, and together with our board of directors, closely monitor our performance as an organization.
Thanks to the ongoing dedication and devotion of our members, the unwavering commitment of our board leaders, and the exciting opportunities awaiting us, I see a remarkably bright future for IPA and by extension, our entire multidisciplinary field. A brighter future for us will mean a brighter future for those older adults and their families that we are committed to serving.
Best wishes to you all for a very happy and healthy fall and winter holiday season,