The worst healthcare system in the world is the United States, of course. Oh no, wait — it’s Canada. Actually, it could be Germany. Geez, now I think it might be the UK.
You could go on and on like this, but you know what? No matter how good or bad your healthcare system is, there are certain universal truths. Here are four of them that might make you look at global healthcare a little differently:
First, healthcare is getting more expensive, all over the world. A new study by the global consultant, Towers Watson (disclosure: Towers Watson is a Best Doctors client) found that the average medical cost trend around the world will be 10.5 percent in 2011. In the advanced economies costs will rise by an average of 9.3 percent. While Americans tend to think of rising medical costs as a uniquely American problem (they’ll rise by 9.9 percent here), it’s just not true. Canadian costs will rise by 13.3 percent. In the UK and Switzerland, they will increase by 9.5 percent, and in France by 8.4 percent.
Why is it happening? As ever, the main drivers are the increasing availability of new medical therapies — and inappropriate use of care. We see the same phenomenon at Best Doctors in our global experience. Across the world, our data for 2010 showed that just over 20 percent of patients had an incorrect diagnosis, and about half were pursuing inappropriate treatment plans. Read more »
There’s been a bit of buzz in the health blogs over President Obama’s decision last week to use the mechanism of a recess appointment to be the director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Recess appointments, for those who may not be aware, allow a President to put a nominee in place when Congress is in recess in order to have him in place without the messy process of having him approved by the Senate. True, the Senate still has to approve a recess appointment by the end of its term, or the seat goes vacant again, but it’s an excellent way to avoid having nasty confirmation fights during election years. Of course, both parties do it, and the reaction of pundits, bloggers, and politicians tend to fall strictly along partisan lines.
If you support the President, then a recess appointment is a way to get around the obstructionism of the other party. If you don’t support the President, it’s a horrific abuse of Presidential power. And so it goes. Either way, I don’t really care much about the politics of how such officials are appointed so much as who is being appointed.
The man who was appointed last week to head CMS is Donald Berwick, M.D., CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. His being placed in charge of CMS will likely have profound consequences not just for how the recent health care/insurance reform law is implemented, but for how the government applies science-based medicine to the administration of the this massive bill. Read more »
The book publishing world, largely based in New York City, is in trouble. The fragmentation of the market by electronics large and small has chopped former readers into so many pieces. How can a publisher make a blockbuster buck anymore? The answer may come in translations of Swedish fiction from a newly-found novelist, now dead, to non-fiction ghostwritten for a face everyone knows from the evening news.
In a whirlwind face-to-face series of meeting with publishers on a very recent sunny Tuesday in Manhattan, I got a glimpse of their angst and did my best to convince them that a book – yes, even all sorts of electronic versions and in-the-palm-of-your-hand “apps” – could make them boatloads of money and do the right thing for America’s healthcare consumer (just maybe such a work could be translated into Swedish and do good there in a return of the favor literary effort). Read more »
A working definition right now is to decrease hospital stays, efficient medical care for a disease at lower cost, avoidance of medical errors in the hospital, and avoidance of hospital acquired infections. These are important goals. They must be attached to monetary incentives. Many of these problems can be solved now.
The solution demands the development of processes of care. An important question is how much money will process improvement save? I estimate that this process improvement could save an estimated 7 to 10% of the healthcare dollar.
The real question should be focused on how to repair the healthcare system by decreasing costs while improving the health of Americans. Read more »
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