A Dialogue – As it says in the “About” section of this blog, I intend for Healthcare Tomorrow to be a discussion.
Throughout the months I have received a number of encouraging and insightful comments from readers.
I have come to realize that one of the drawbacks of Blogger (the service that hosts this blog), is that I cannot email people who leave comments unless they have an account with Blogger.
Thus, I have not been able to dialogue “off-line” with many of them.
Perhaps if Healthcare Tomorrow continues to grow, I will move to a more user-friendly service.
Until then, allow me to dialogue “on-line” with Tim Gee, a gentleman that commented on my last post, A Theory
Here is a portion of Tim Gee’s comment:
Andrew - great treatment of areas to address in our health care market. There is one, however, that never seems to get much attention - that was a critical issue back when I worked for an e-health connectivity startup.
Proponents of a single payer system say that the market driven approach to health care has failed, what with continued rising costs and less than 100% coverage of the population. The problem with this (and this is maybe the fourth element) is that our health care market is far from "market driven" - there are many distortions and indirect relationships between buyers and sellers, who pays and who benefits. I'm thinking about employers who pay for health care that is consumed by employees with little regard for cost or efficacy; or hospitals whose real customers are private practice physicians rather than patients; and payers who, through these distortions, wield power that is out of proportions to their theoretical role of managing risk.
These distortions in our health care marketplace, mainly the result of regulation and politics, have created the biggest barrier to reforms and technology adoption that would improve outcomes, patient safety and increase coverage through lower costs. Because of these distortions, each player in the health care market asks, "what's in it for me?" when considering change or investing in technology - and frequently, because of these distortions there is in fact little in it for them because the benefits are accrued by someone else in the health care delivery chain.
Tim – First of all, thanks for the comment, I really enjoy hearing from readers. I think you make a great point about the market place. It is a web of incentives and disincentives that don’t quite motivate the “right” behavior. As a philosophy student years ago, I learned that you can’t truly make anyone act outside of their own best interest. And that is why programs that align the interests of the different players to the end that we want to achieve is a key to fixing healthcare. We have seen some programs come about that are intended to do just this. At the beginning of the food chain, the purchasers of healthcare (I know it seems like it should be the patient, but we just aren’t there yet) have begun to change the incentives. Through Leapfrog and other business alliances, providers and insurance companies are being put on the hot-seat for improving quality and paying for quality. In order to engage the patient in cost-effectiveness decisions, insurance companies, no doubt at the behest of employers, are offering HSA-like products.
I think we would all agree that these are just the first steps in aligning the incentives and creating competition around what really matters – improved quality outcomes for everyone. But this brings me back to my theory. If we, the leaders of healthcare, are going to create a system that works for everyone, then we must be committed to continual improvement, we must use the tools of technology to get there, and we must be committed to looking beyond profit and create the incentives and the environment that works for everyone.
Again, thank you, Tim, for your comment. I hope to hear more readers in the future.