An Important Article in the New York Times

Today’s NY Times has a terrific op-ed by Rita Redberg MD, a Professor of Medicine at the University of California in San Francisco, that clearly describes the massive waste that occurs in Medicare (and the rest of health care) from incentives for care services that have no basis in evidence. The article provides concrete examples of blatantly unnecessary or incorrect services that have become commonplace and immensely costly, without clinical benefit.

Dr. Redberg has an interesting bio. A Cardiologist, she is Chief Editor of Archives of Internal Medicine. Even more provocative, she “has spearheaded the journal’s new focus on health care reform and “less is more”, which highlights areas of health care with no known benefit and definite risks.

Please read today’s piece and then rebroadcast to your professional network. In it, Dr. Redberg has encapsulated the core of America’s health care cost crisis. Appreciating this reality is the predicate to changing health care and its threat to the larger American economy.

Are We All Ready for Do-It-Yourself Health Care?

Jessie Gruman, PhD

First published 4/06/11 on the Center for Advancing Health blog.

The outsourcing of work by businesses to the cheapest available workers has received a lot of attention in recent years.  It has largely escaped notice, however, that the new labor force isn’t necessarily located in Southeast Asia, but is often found here at home and is virtually free.  It is us, using our laptops and smart phones to perform more and more functions once carried out by knowledgeable salespeople and service reps.

This was particularly salient to me this week: I spent an hour online browsing, comparing prices, reading customer reviews and filling out the required billing and shipping information to get a great deal on a new lamp.  An airline would charge me 99 cents to talk to a person but provides information for free online.  Calls to Amtrak to make train reservations are routinely answered with a message that the wait to talk to an agent is 30 minutes, but that I can book travel myself – plus get better deals – if I do it online.  My bank has a small staff, limited hours and it charges extra for paper checks and mailed hard copy statements… but its Website is welcoming and useful, even at 3 a.m.

Continue reading “Are We All Ready for Do-It-Yourself Health Care?”