Saturday, September 08, 2012

Counting Blessings 

Providers of health care have reason to count their blessings. 

The September 7 issue of the Omaha World Herald carried an AP story headlined “30¢ per health care dollar wasted.” 

The story was about a statement issued by the prestigious Institute of Medicine which estimated the amount of waste in health care due to unnecessary services, inefficiency in the delivery of care, excess administrative costs, inflated prices, prevention failures and fraud. 

In any other line of endeavor, such a report would produce an explosion of protest and viewing with alarm. 

But this story appeared on page 6 and there was no reference to in on the editorial page. 

The story quoted Dr. Mark Smith of the California HealthCare Foundation, chairman of the IOM panel issuing the report, as saying that the remedies included payment reform by the government, less cost shifting to workers by employers, and a demand (by whom was not stated) for accountability from hospitals and medical groups.  He also said that doctors had to get beyond the “bubble of solo practice and do more collaborating with peers and other clinicians.  He called it all “a huge hill to climb.” 

He said that the good news was that cost could be reduced without harm to quality of care. 

As to the hill to be climbed, the biggest one, I think, is getting the public exercised enough to force reforms.  Health care providers continue to be venerated and nobody wants to push them very hard. 

As I said, they should count their blessings.

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