THE CURE FOR ALL OUR ILLS

When I started this blog almost 2 years ago, the intent was to analyze all the components of the ailing health care industry and see where they were wanting and to look for specific changes in practice that might actually make the system sustainable. When you attend leadership conferences, they often have at least one talk on problem-solving, and the approach is always to find a temporary fix, or band-aid, to stabilize the problem while searching for a permanent solution. Our leaders have become proficient at applying band-aids, and now the box is almost empty. It’s like treating pneumonia and septic shock with Tylenol and blood pressure-raising medicine. It keeps the heart pumping for awhile, but if you don’t use antibiotics … well, you get the idea.

If curing our health care ills were really as simple as taking a pill the problem would have been solved long ago—Americans love the idea of the quick fix. Unfortunately, the “antibiotic” is more like chemotherapy—in other words, it’s going to cause a severe, painful rash, protracted vomiting, and has a small chance of killing us. Makes the Tylenol and blood pressure medicine look pretty good, for the moment. Besides, the doctors are squabbling over which antibiotic to use.

To put it into more concrete terms, we have a country with a culture based on self-reliance (gradually eroding) along with a well developed sense of fairness. We’re suckers for helping the underdog. While not entirely mutually exclusive values, if you institutionalize the latter at the expense (literally and figuratively) of the former, you find yourself where Greece is now, and where we are headed. Both attributes of the American psyche are admirable when applied in the proper doses and context, but lethal if the mix is wrong.

So what are the specific steps necessary to restore the proper balance to our out-of-kilter economy? I’ll attempt to lay these out in my next rant.

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