Is Health Care Making You Better -- Or Dead?
We asked [Regina] Herzlinger, the Nancy R. McPherson Professor of Business Administration Chair at the Harvard Business School, to discuss her latest work and her more than 30 years of research in the health care industry.
Q: What your book points out is that all the players and other parts of the system are interdependent. And although you may have a great doctor with the best intentions, the system may not allow him or her to give the quality of care they would like to.
A: Absolutely. My heart really goes out to physicians nowadays. They're like little hamsters running on a track, and they're measured for their productivity, how many people they see. They have lousy information systems to back them up. And then they have a public policy establishment that more or less continuously deprecates their ideas and squeezes down their income. Not a great occupation to be in.
There's always a tipping point, and we've hit the tipping point here. I've read reviews of Michael Moore's Sicko. I haven't seen it as yet. But what strikes me is that his diagnosis and my diagnosis are very similar. He diagnoses the same problems—heartless, insensitive, greedy, self-serving status quo—but his cure is a government-run system, I gather from hearsay. I agree with the diagnosis, but my cure is, yes, everybody should have health insurance, but they should control it for themselves. It should be run by the people, not by the government.
I'm an economist; I take economics very personally. My own view is that the economic consequences of our present health care system are disastrous and grievously injure the economy. It's not getting any better, and none of the cures work.
Wow. Maybe health care reform and universal coverage will really happen in my lifetime.