Random – But, Focused – Thoughts - 12/31/18

Thoughts needing your feedback…

Considering For A Moment The Realities Of Our Time – Sometimes as we deal with the daily burdens of our lives – both professional and personal – we tend to neglect the changes that are percolating across societies throughout the world.  I was really struck by an animated depiction of the GDPs of various countries throughout the world.  In particular, China has continued its rise as a major economic force throughout the world.  In fact, when I was selected as a Kellogg Fellow in 1985, one of my points of study was to learn more about China because I noted for the Kellogg Foundation that “China will most likely become the dominant economic force of the next century.”  Well – the next century is here and the prediction has become a reality.  Take a few minutes to watch this video.  It becomes clear that the economic changes are a marker for political and social changes as well.  We need to take note because even though the changes are outside of health care they will both directly and indirectly impact on health care.  Resources are what makes societies hum.  Embracing nations is how we’ve done it historically.  We should get back that approach.

Chasing Squirrels – About a week ago, I was upstairs in my office when I suddenly heard this horrible choking sound coming from the first floor.  It sounded as if my dog – Toto – was choking on something, although I’ve never heard him choking :-) .  He loves to chew on tennis balls so the fleeting thought was well deserved.  In a flash, I ran downstairs only to find Toto staring intently at the kitchen.  But, the sound continued.  I couldn’t figure it out but is was obvious that Toto was focused on something.  Then, I saw it.  Toto had cornered a squirrel that was screaming its head off atop a large painting hung on the wall.  He had cornered a squirrel!!  From simple observation around the squirrels outside the home, I knew that there was no way I was going to capture that squirrel by myself.  So, I calmly went downstairs and gathered up my son and his friend to assist me.  The next screen is directly from the Keystone Cops!  The three of us with coats and towels to protect us from the squirrel along with Toto gave hot pursuit to the wily little creature.  He gave us a run for the money.  We chased it back and forth and around the house.  He would occasionally stop and simply stare at us as if to say, “Are you kidding?  You think you’re going to catch me?”  But, then we thought wiser by opening the windows and the doors before restarting our hot pursuit.  Within a minute, he was out the door and we were staring at one another with laughter at how easy that had been – at the end.  So, what’s this got to do with health care?

As I was thinking about the squirrel incident when it came to me that much of activity in health care today is like chasing squirrels.  We’ve got the various parts of the system going in different directions.  Some are chasing the proverbial squirrel with large leather coats, others with towels and still others with open jaws in sheer intuitive instinct like Toto!  We’re not coordinated.  One part of the industry is trying to go in one direction, and another part is going in a different direction.  Meanwhile, the squirrel of health care costs and inefficiency is getting away with dart here and a dash there.  It is only by getting all of the parts to work in a coordinated fashion that we’ll solve the problem.  Fee-for-service providers working in isolation from public health programs who are not connected to social support initiatives that use emergency rooms as fail-safe support systems during off hours only results in more costs.  Then, there is the drug and medical device industry toddling along to their own drummer quite apart from the insurance industry to say nothing about the confusing role government now seems to play in the health care community of today.  We’re chasing squirrels!!  It’s time to stop and take thoughtful consideration of the situation before continuing the chase.  It seems to me that if we actually worked together – across the boundaries of the industry – we’d solve this squirrel problem that has captured the attention of the health care community.  What do you think?

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