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All Attempts To Reduce Bureaucracy In The Healthcare System Will Increase It

“The media is the message.” It does not matter if the policy has failed previously.  All that is important is the effectiveness of the policy’s presentation and its ability to manipulate the polls.

The government’s purpose is to work for the people who elected it. It does not seem to be working that way at present. Bureaucrats create rules or regulations as they interpret the laws made by congress and the president. Regulations are controlled by the administration’s ideology. Many times the regulations in one area nullify the intended effect in another area.

Regulations and bureaucracy inhibit the use of common sense in policy making for the benefit of the people.

The people did not have an outlet to express their opinions or frustrations until blogging came into its own seven years ago.

Americans do not like President Obama’s healthcare reform act. They also do not like Dr. Don Berwick’s apparent disrespect for their intelligence and his infatuation with the British healthcare system.

“I am romantic about the NHS (British National Health Service); I love it. All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*

Cutting Healthcare Costs In Spain: Evidence-Based Disinvestment

In an economic downturn, two classic cost-reducing solutions come to mind in the healthcare services industry: reduce offerings (give fewer services)  or control demand (limit access to healthcare or increase copayments). There are many more but these two are the most frequently used. Actually, budget cuts in the Spanish region of Catalonia fit in the first type: they will need fewer resources (both human and material) because their services offered will shrink.

It’s always controversial to cut healthcare services in Spain. Even talking about it leads to accusations of promoting total privatization, attacking the Welfare State and so on. But there is another way to cut services, drugs or technologies. It’s what Dr. Iñaki Gutierrez-Ibarluzea called ‘Evidenced-based disinvestment’ in an op-ed for Spain’s ‘Primary Care Journal’ (‘Revista de Atención Primaria’). It’s easy: just find out which services, technological means or drugs offer little or no benefit for patients’ health. In other words, stop financial support for anything inefficient. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Diario Medico*

Why Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) Will Fail To Reduce Costs

In an ideal world ACOs should work. There is no evidence that  untested and complex organizational structure of ACOs developed by Dr. Don Berwick (head of CMS) will improve quality of care and reduce costs.

ACOs are supposed to provide financial incentives to health care organizations to reduce costs and improve quality. There are too many defects in the ACOs infrastructure to improve the financial and medical outcomes.

At a conceptual level, the incentive for ACOs would be to increase efficiency and avoid overuse and duplication of services, resources, and facilities. In this model, ACO members would share the savings resulting from the increased coordination of care.

I have said over and over again that excessive administrative fees and ineffective management of chronic disease is the main source of waste in the healthcare system. ACOs do not deal with these main drivers of costs.

The only stakeholders who can demand that this waste be eliminated are consumers/patients. Patients must control their healthcare dollars.  They will make sure there are competitive prices and will not permit duplication of services. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs): HMOs With Lipstick?

Thousands of articles have been written about forming ACOs. Millions of dollars have been spent by hospital systems to try to form an ACO. Healthcare policy consultants have discovered a new cash cow.

Hospitals systems are wasting their money. They think the return from owning salaried physicians’ intellectual property will be more than worth the cost.

  1. Thousands of physicians have been confused by the concept of ACO.
  2. Many have felt ACOs are an attack on their freedom to practice medicine the best they can.
  3. Many have rejected the concept because they feel they will have to be salaried by hospital systems.
  4. Many physicians do not trust President Obama or Dr. Don Berwick.
  5. The Stage 2 ACO regulations are not easy to understand. They are more ominous than the stage 1 regulations.

The two core stated objectives for ACOs are:

(1) Reducing healthcare costs.

(2) Preserving and improving quality.

The stated objectives are laudable. The government regulations and controls are confusing. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*

How Much Does It Cost To Bring One Drug To Market?

Despite the variety of health systems across hundreds of different countries, one feature is near-universal: We all depend on private industry to commercialize and market drug products. And because drugs are such an integral part of our health care system, that industry is generally heavily regulated. Yet despite this regulation, little is publicly known about drug development costs. But aggregate research and development (R&D) data are available, and the pharmaceutical industry spends billions per year.

A huge challenge facing consumers, insurers, and governments worldwide are the acquisition costs of drugs. On this point, the pharmaceutical industry makes a consistent argument: This is a risky business, and it costs a lot to bring a new drug to market. According to PhRMA, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry’s advocacy group, it cost $1.3 billion (in 2005 dollars) to bring a new drug to market. The industry argues that high acquisition costs are necessary to support the multi-year R&D investment, and considerable risks, in to meet the regulatory requirements demanded for new drugs.

But what goes into this $1.3 billion figure? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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