Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Multinational Medical Industrial Complex

The most important health-care development of the day is the recent, relatively unheralded rise of a huge new industry that supplies health-care services for profit. Proprietary hospitals and nursing homes, diagnostic laboratories, home-care and emergency-room services, hemodialysis, and a wide variety of other services produced a gross income to this industry last year of about $35 billion to $40 billion.

Arnold Relman, MD,  "The Medical Industrial Complex." New England Journal of Medicine, 1980

If you haven't noticed,  we now have a massive multinational medical industrial complex evolving right under our nose.   This has occurred because the health care industry has grown to consume nearly 20% of the GDP with $2.8 trillion in national  health care spending.  Health care  is clearly a growth industry,  generating nearly 10% of jobs in America.  It is not something corporations can ignore.

The industrial giants, multinational  corporations  - GE.  Johnson and Johnson, Siemens, 3M, IBM, and others  – have noted this growth.   They  enter  the health care arena with a zest for innovation and experience in implementing innovation. They offer their technological, analytical, organizational and big data  management, and marketing  expertise.   They share common purposes - to lower costs, to better outcomes, and  to make money in the process.  They have societal as well as economic missions.
Thhe entry of multinational corporations  into  healthcare in a big way  is not a bad thing, for these multibillion dollar corporations are experienced in operating in complex  environments and coordinating their skills across national borders and across professional boundaries.   Also they bring billions of dollars of capital to the table and can make things happen for the benefit of their own hundreds of thousands of employees and for millions of other health care consumers.

Tweet:  Multinational corporations  have entered the healthcare arena, and bring technological, analytical, marketing, and management skills.

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