Key to health care sustainability: no growth?

This is heretical health care thinking: what if the health care we provided today was enough (if tomorrow is a better day, we can roll with that)?  Enough in the sense that modern medicine has advanced to the point that any additional value created by continued medical research is not worth its financial cost.

The Good Blog quotes MIT Sloan School of Management professor emeritus Jay Forrester.  He says that the future business is a successful no-growth business:

“I think one of the biggest management problems is going to be to understand how to manage a successful non-growing company—and how to get out of the frame of mind that success is measured only by growth. … It’s very common to say, “If you stagnate, if you don’t grow, you will fail.” Well, that’s possible if you don’t maintain a system with proper management policies. You’ve still got to have some way to maintain vitality, to maintain some product progress, but to do it within a fixed demand on the environment. I don’t think I’ve heard of that being taught in management schools.”

Good’s Andrew Price writes:

Indeed. The idea of a no-growth business doesn’t seem to get discussed much anywhere yet. It’s great when companies buy carbon offsets or incorporate post-consumer recycled content into their products—every little bit helps—but we generally ignore the fact that there’s something inherently unsustainable about any business that has to get bigger to stay alive.

Realistically, the United States’ annual health care spend is unsustainable.  So when the dollars run out for advancing health care (assuming they do) will we accept what we have as the be-all end-all?

There may not be a choice.

Here’s the complete interview with Forrester.

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