Is Blue the New Green? Healthcare and the Environment

After almost 40 years in the wilderness, environmentalism has hit the mainstream, again, only this time it has more urgency. No longer is it a fringe concern. To underscore how mainstream it has become, most companies now have some kind of initiative to "go green." But the latest trend, according to JWT Intelligence, a trend spotting group within one of the world's largest advertising agencies, is "blue marketing." The movement from green to blue is from a more narrow emphasis on conservation to an approach that emphasizes innovation and sustainability.

At the same time, true reform of the country's healthcare delivery system now seems within reach. This effort is also being driven by an approach that emphasizes innovation and sustainability. The "Call to Action"  spelled out by Sen. Max Baucus of Montana calls for meaningful coverage and care for all Americans. Sen. Baucus' plan outlines ways to weed out waste and create a financially sustainable system. Some notable aspects of the plan include a greater emphasis on primary care, a non-judicial review of most medical malpractice cases, a financial incentive for physician practices of all sizes to adopt on-line record keeping, and a financial incentive for both doctors and hospitals to improve patient outcomes and general quality of care.

As companies of all kinds add sustainability into their overall success strategies, they will also need to adopt strict measures of accountability. It is no small irony that environmentally driven savings, realized through reduced transportation and energy costs, will fall to the bottom line. In the healthcare arena, necessary governmental controls over cost and coverage must be balanced by an openness to innovation. Innovation is never a fixed asset. By its nature it needs to be a process that is nurtured continuously. If successful, "blue" initiatives towards a comprehensive approach to national healthcare may yield some "green" to help the federal government address other very pressing needs facing all of us as Americans.

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