I count at least 15 ways to make healthcare better, faster and cheaper
for everyone. All of them are about value: finding what works and what
doesn't at what price, finding ways for people who use healthcare and
whoever pays for it to choose that value, and finding ways for the
doctors, nurses, hospitals, and clinics to give us that value – more
good stuff per dollar – just as many other industries have learned to
do. These last two are about the big picture.
Did you ever wonder how FedEx gets it there in one day? Or why we can
now watch videos like this on the Internet? It didn't just happen. Most industries these days use specific management techniques like "lean manufacturing," the "Toyota Production System," Breakthrough management, Six-Sigma management, things like that, to continually make what they are selling less expensive to produce and better for the customer. Healthcare mostly doesn't. Until now, there has been little incentive for healthcare to do this, and healthcare is only starting to use these techniques. In these techniques, the people actually doing the work – whether the work is billing or mopping the floors or taking out someone's gall bladder – figure out how to do it better, faster, and cheaper. They do this as a regular part of work, all the time, not as something added, not as a fad of the moment. It's hard, it's a long process, but it works. When organizations have tried this in healthcare, they have saved piles of money, they make far fewer mistakes, and employees, patients and families are far happier.
At the same time, think about what the Securities and Exchange Commission, the SEC, is supposed to do for the stock market. It forces public companies to reveal certain standard information – anything that might effect investor's decisions, put it right out there on the web. Let's establish a "Healthcare SEC" for both providers and payers, putting certain basic, standard information on the web, where people can see it. For hospitals and health systems, this would include, for instance, how many times each year do you do a mitral valve replacement, or a cornea transplant, how did that work out, how much do you charge, and did the patients like it? For payers, it might be how much of the premium dollar comes back in medical services, how often do they deny payment and why, and how often they rescind policies.
You can't get more value for your money if you don't know what you're paying for.