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Straight Talk
A weekly update from management on the issues that matter most.

Nov 9, 2017
We are spending too much on healthcare not to have everyone covered, declared former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State, General Colin Powell at the annual Florida Hospital Association (FHA) meeting. Over six hundred sophisticated and passionate attendees spontaneously responded with a standing ovation.

FHA’s Mission to Care and Vision to Lead was also highlighted by General Powell as he contrasted his wife’s care with that of an impoverish working woman in his neighborhood.  The clear message—we can and should do better. 

 

General Powell summarized conversations with his counterparts in Canada, United Kingdom and France—all with universal and affordable healthcare.  Although one may have to wait for non-urgent care, these three nations spend, with far better results, about half of the $10,000 per year that we spend in America.  America’s healthcare as an industry is the fifth largest economy in the world behind the U.S., China, Japan, and Germany while being ahead of United Kingdom.  http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/fund-reports/2017/jul/mirror-mirror-international-comparisons-2017

 

Industry expert Paul Keckley, PhD stated in a recent report, “Insurers are not trusted, drug companies are considered greedy, hospitals are thought to be wasteful and physicians appear more concerned about their incomes and control than their patients.”  A new Gallup poll found only thirty-seven percent of Americans are confident in the country’s medical system.   http://news.gallup.com/poll/212840/americans-confidence-institutions-edges.aspx

 

Cut the waste, according to former Chief of Medicare and Medicaid Don Berwick.  Estimates are that one third of the $3.3 trillion dollars spent in America yearly are waste.  Overtreatment, misuse, ineffective tests/treatments, defensive medicine, and misaligned incentives in the current fee-for-service payment system are the usual suspects.  Rates of surgery around the nation vary seven-fold with no differences in outcomes.   

 

What is holding us back?  We are in a struggle with Washington and our state legislatures that drain our energy, purpose, and passion for caring.  And sadly, our elected officials are also held in low esteem for not solving the affordability and access needs of their constituents. 

 

We have proven preventative programs that objectively cut costs in half with better health outcomes measured in longer life expectancies as well as lower prevalences of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, loneliness, and mental illness.  Think of the effectiveness of the Blue Zones Project, which has already increased life expectancy for Collier County, in contradistinction to the rest of America which has, for the first time since 1994, paradoxically and unhappily a lower life expectancy.  https://southwestflorida.bluezonesproject.com/             

 

Change is inevitable, but we may need to struggle more before we have an efficient single payer focused on prevention.  Other developed nations have coverage for all with options for people who desire additional service.  We can have everyone be more productive in a globally competitive economy as we help everyone live a longer, happier, and healthier life.

 

P.S.  DO YOU HAVE A COLLEAGUE OR FRIEND WHO WOULD BE INTERESTED IN UPDATES?  Please enter their email address at nchmd.org/straighttalk, and we will add them to our complimentary mailing list.  

AUTHOR

Allen Weiss, MD

President and CEO

You may contact Dr. Allen Weiss and The NCH Healthcare System by clicking here.