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Why not the best?

No state faces a steeper challenge in adapting to health-care reform than Florida, whether the changes are forced by the Affordable Care Act or the lack of a coherent alternative.

This week, the Sterling Award Council is hosting a symposium in Orlando for health-care leaders around the state to learn from those who have won the award for organizational excellence.  

James Burkhart, president and CEO of Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, will tell the assembly that there is no choice but to learn to do more with less.

"We cannot afford to waste money chasing ineffective improvement fads," Burkhart says.

Why does Florida, in particular, face such a steep learning curve? Already 63 percent of Florida patients are on Medicare or Medicaid, which offer break-even payments or worse, and that percentage is bound to grow. So it isn't as though most health-care institutions can keep on doing what they've been doing.

I'll be there to hear and learn. Let's see what the award-winners say.

--Health News Florida is an independent online publication dedicated to journalism in the public interest. Editor Carol Gentry can be reached at 727-410-3266 or by e-mail at

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.