November 8-10, 2007
Saint Paul, Minnesota
The American health care system affects every man, women and child in our country. It encompasses over 15% of our Gross Domestic Product. Costs of care continue to rise and insurance premiums routinely increase at double digit rates. Regulators and health care managers impose policies that affect medical decisions and access to treatment. Advertising and internet research drive patient medical requests while the threat of malpractice claims impacts physician judgment and decision-making. Ultimately, fewer Americans can afford the high price of health and many feel disengaged from crucial health and life decisions.
At the same time, we hold onto important myths about our system: that doctors and patients are still in charge of our medical decisions; that the American system promotes egalitarian principles of fairness and open access to the finest care in the world; that individual citizens have real choices about the management of their health. This intractable clash between myth and reality has consumed policy-makers and fueled conflict at many levels for years.
This clash between myth and reality is even more complex in light of our rapidly changing society. Health care decisions are influenced by different and competing value systems: an increasingly diverse and aging population of patients; a growing universe of traditional and non-traditional health care providers; the ever-expanding role of third-party payors; suppliers promoting rapidly changing technologies and marketing directly to patients; policy-makers who promote increasingly divided ideologies and regulators caught in the middle. The result is an overwhelmingly complex set of challenges that provoke conflict at all levels.
How do we move forward? How can professionals from the conflict resolution field be constructive partners with health care professionals in working through these many difficult and complex conflicts? The 2007 Symposium on Advanced Issues in Dispute Resolution addresses these two questions.
Recognizing that the system cannot be easily "fixed" or the problem "solved," the Symposium focused focus on how health care professionals and conflict resolvers can work together to identify essential guiding principles for addressing conflicts across the health care field. The Symposium brought nationally recognized representatives of patients, health care providers, payors and regulators together with experienced conflict resolution professionals to identify and articulate a key set of principles for responsible decision-making in health care conflicts.
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