Observations on our healthcare services industry.

  1. There is a worsening crisis in the financing of healthcare.  We are spending more money per capita and yet the number of the uninsured continues to increase. The government cannot afford to pay more for healthcare.  The chance that any meaningful plan for reform that improves coverage and controls costs diminshes with each day of the presidential campaign as the candidates “dumb down” their proposals to satisfy targeted voter constituencies.
  2. There is a growing problem with patient quality and safety.  We seem content to approach these serious issues with proposals and initiatives that do little more than chip away on the margin.  No one seems to want to talk about comprehensive reform — from education to the way we organize and manage hospitals and deliver care.  Anything less than this type of comprehensive reform will not produce sustainable change. 
  3. Recent congressional votes on reimbursement notwithstanding, it seems that many physicians seem more passionate about money issues than taking the lead nationally in improving quality and patient safety.
  4. “Our employees are our most important asset,” is an oft repeated maxim in the healthcare services industry, typically in annual reports.  Yet healthcare workers are more likely to be hurt on the job than the 100,000 worldwide employees of Alcoa who are working in loud, clanking steel mills around vats of molten steel, according to former Treasury Secretary and former Alcoa CEO Paul O’Neill. 

 A noted economist once said that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.  How true.