The word “stakeholder” really bothers me particularly in the healthcare space. I’m struck by a quote by Ken Burns.
“The thing that I’ve learned is that there is no ‘them.’ This is what everybody does: make a distinction about ‘them.’ It’s just ‘us’.”

To me, the word stakeholder creates an us versus them scenario. Perhaps the intent is to imply that we are all stakeholders in the health care system. But to me, the term conjures up differences, finger pointing, turf, etc. not commonalities.

It’s divisive…isolating.. It’s different than the word shareholder. A shareholder implies common interest, shared focus, co-ownership, or uniting objective like caring for patients.

I think we need to stick with the Ken Burns’ view – it’s just “us” as that might get us farther than where we are today. Together, we can solve things but as stakeholders, with differing or perhaps divergent interests, we won’t get as far – in fact, we’ll quickly get nowhere.


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Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis
Foundation for Health and Policy

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Highland, Maryland 20777

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