Saturday, May 22, 2010

Will Innovation Save America Health Care?

For the last three years, I’ve been writing blogs touting health care innovation. I’ve maintained returning to market-based principles, allowing patients spend more of their own money, encouraging more personal responsibility for their health, offering entrepreneurs more capital for health ventures , giving patients more choices, ,making value-based information more available. encouraging doctors to compete, and innovating across the board hold the answers to a sustainable system. I even wrote a book on the subject, Innovation-Driven Health Care (2007).

But to little avail. Clearly, President Obama does not share this world view. Instead he has opted for more government intervention, expansion of the social welfare state, and a more European-type health system to protect all population segments.

An article in today’s New York Times, of all places, sends a warning shot across Obama’s bow.

The article “Crisis Imperils Liberal Benefits Long Expected by Europeans,” , opens,

“PARIS — Across Western Europe, the “lifestyle superpower,” the assumptions and gains of a lifetime are suddenly in doubt. The deficit crisis that threatens the euro has also undermined the sustainability of the European standard of social welfare, built by left-leaning governments since the end of World War II. “

The author reports, among other things, Europe will have to save itself from crushing, unsustainable debts created by rapidly aging and declining populations by doing some of the following: raising its retirement and pension ages, freezing public sector pay, changing inflexible hiring and firing rules, and maybe even changing the slogan of the European Union, “The Europe that protects” through cradle-to-grave social welfare safety-nets.

European countries , and the United States, may even have to consider national policies on innovation to stimulate their economies to outgrow the cost of its health care burdens.

Writing in today’s The Health Care Blog, “National Health Insurance Isn’t Enough- Six Crucial Steps to Improve Health Care,” Dr. Albert Waxman, CEO and founding partner of Psilos Group, co-headquartered in the Bay Area and New York City, which has funded and developed more than 38 innovative companies dedicated to this vision, including ActiveHealth, AngioScore, Click4Care, Definity Health, ExtendHealth and OmniGuide, has these six suggestions to offer.

• Preventing and managing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and hypertension. These account for 78 percent of all health care expenses in Medicare. Technology can help improve care management to prevent costly procedures and to incentivize consumers to live healthier lifestyles.

•Reducing errors in inpatient, ambulatory, and post-acute care. These errors – 19 percent e in medication administration errors at hospital bedsides alone -- are the result of poor information flow and fallible human behavior. Innovative solutions to help care administrators avoid costly and tragic mistakes have begun emerging and have demonstrated positive clinical outcomes.

•Addressing and reducing the obesity and diabetes epidemic, which costs an estimated $170 billion annually in the U.S.

• Using mew medical technologies to enable earlier and better diagnosis and thus earlier intervention to mitigate the impact of high-cost, high-morbidity diseases. Continued innovation around technologies that help identify diseases earlier will have a vital financial and clinical impact.

•Fostering the development of medical devices for less invasive and more effective surgical interventions.

•Lastly, recognizing and sponsoring entrepreneurs committed to developing solutions for most of the previously mentioned challenges. Venture capitalists must assume a leadership role in spurring the innovation needed to save not just America’s health care economy but its overall economy.

Unless we innovate, we may become just another European boiled frog, dying a slow, unrecognized, but certain death from slowly rising debt temperatures engendered by an aging population, lowered birth rates, and social welfare burdens. We have an advantage over Europe because of our public-private mix, our tradition of entrepreneurship, and our birth rates, which exceed those of Europe.


1 comment:

Richard L. Reece, MD said...

Until I get a translation, I'll take this as a compliment.