The problem with health care: too many cynics

“Cynical people aren’t engaged in trying to make things better.”

Those the words of a leadership guru speaking on new world realities, specifically on the theme: The Cynics are Winning. While he was talking leadership, I’m talking health care.

“Cynicism is the tendency to be close-minded and disillusioned,” according to Kouzes and Posner.

The guru also cited a study that said half (that is, 50%) of the people in the United States are cynical. Well I figure that the health care industry employs over 12 million people (and growing). Mix in politicians and health care’s tendency to have issues with change generally, and I’m going to go ahead and guess that the majority of people involved with health care’s future are cynics.

There’s no other explanation for why we’ve been talking about problems in health care for 40+ years while watching safe, incremental change move along at the pace of an inchworm. And costs generally keep going up—more like the pace of a horse’s gallop.

Health care’s cynicism has got me sounding like a cynic, now. Well I’m cynical toward cynics. (I guess we can all be that way from time to time. But collective cynicism for 40+ years? Come on!)

Concierge medicine doesn’t deliver care fairly (and the current system is better at this how?). Continuity of care between PCPs and retail clinics is poor (as if all other providers communicate well?). And electronic medical records are too dangerous (the mounting number of medical errors are a fair trade off?).

Tom Peters has said, “It is an age that begs for those who break the rules, who imagine the heretofore impossible.”

There will be never be unanimous agreement on any health care innovation. There will be issues with every potential solution.

But gosh it beats inaction. It beats sticking with the same model that obviously isn’t working well. Let’s try new things. Let’s work through the problems that arise. I’m hardly arguing for tearing down what we’ve got. But don’t be afraid to experiment. Embrace experimentation.

One thought on “The problem with health care: too many cynics

  1. In today’s world it is difficult at times not to be the cynic. I dance with cynicism regularly when the status quo makes my head hurt. I would also agree that we as a nation do not necessarily have to reinvent the wheel here and dump our current healthcare delivery method for a new one. Rather we need to look at key aspects such as the fragmentation of our system and develop some solidarity between stakeholders – not to be confused with shareholders.

    Hospitals are essentially the front lines of healthcare, that being said the other allied healthcare organizations such as regulatory bodies (Joint Commission, Dept of Health) and insurance companies should be looking to support the needs of hospital through reimbursement programs that are equitable so that hospitals can provide the needed medical support to the communities in which they exist.

    The one musketeer theory of all for one and all for me (which I grant you is clearly cynical) which I think describes the business aspect of healthcare more often than not needs to change. Industry leaders need to get together and collaboratively decide what is in the best interest of patients and how best to provide those services utilizing the expertise of each healthcare organization (hospitals, insurers, regulators, etc.).

    Hospitals and insurance companies are dependent upon patients; patients are dependent upon hospitals and insurance companies. It makes sense for these two factions to join forces to positively impact healthcare so that everybody comes out a winner.


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