The future of . . . medicine

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未来。 . . 医学

Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | June 06, 2013
From the June 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“I don’t kid myself,” he says. “The program that I describe in my book is something of a Utopia. It’s not something that’s politically realistic in our current environment.”

Nonetheless, it’s not completely Utopian. A similar system does, in fact, exist. Not here, but in Singapore, which provides nearly universal health care access to its citizens using a mix of forced savings and emergency insurance. “They have what looks like in the bulk of Singaporeans a true sense of financial security about health that no part of the American population has, so that’s inspiring,” Goldhill says. “Does the example of how a country of five and a half million does it (match with) how a country of 310 million does it?” Goldhill asks. Not necessarily, but the principles, he says, are “important to understand before we go further down a road that has been a catastrophe for us.”

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The benefit of rankings

Safety grades for hospitals provided by organizations like Leapfrog Group, where Goldhill sits on the board, and Consumer Reports, which released its first ever hospital safety rankings last year, can help consumers, Goldhill says, mainly by pointing out meaningful differences in hospitals — such as that for many procedures, the greater the volume at the practice, generally the better they are at doing it. But the main benefit would come, again, once safety becomes a mark of competition. “The real improvement comes from when you start seeing billboards in your town that say, ‘Go to Uptown Hospital because Downtown Hospital will kill you.’ At that point, safety becomes paramount,” Goldhill says. “If you’ve ever been in a truly competitive business, the power of competition can focus your mind on constant improvements and can be so much greater than anything that’s rule-based or centrally planned.”

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