Tom Peters on Health Care

I’m a fan of Tom Peters. My dad turned me onto Re-Imagine! early in my undergraduate years; and now, as I look back, I can point to that book and say that it single handedly changed my approach to the world. There have been influences since then to be sure, but that book is solely responsible for my new (at the time!) approach to thinking about, well, everything.

Mr. Peters has been advocating for better health care for as long as I have been reading his blog. But it seems (which is good for us BTW) he has a renewed interest in health care. In fact, he recently spoke at Kindred Healthcare and graciously provided us with his slides from the presentation (find them here). Go check him and his crew out. There is some really good stuff like:

“As unsettling as the prevalence of inappropriate care is the enormous amount of what can only be called ignorant care. A surprising 85% of everyday medical treatments have never been scientifically validated. … For instance, when family practitioners in Washington were queried about treating a simple urinary tract infection, 82 physicians came up with an extraordinary 137 strategies.” Source: Demanding Medical Excellence: Doctors and Accountability in the Information Age, Michael Millenson

And this not by Tom Peters but from Thomas Goetz in the New York Times Magazine as a nice follow-up,

Doctors don’t like to admit it, but “most treatment decisions right now are still based on doctors’ judgments that don’t have real research behind them,” says Jodi Halpern, a physician and bioethicist at the U.C. Berkeley School of Public Health. “But it takes real data to make the right decisions, especially for patients. There’s a powerful improvement in health outcomes, people’s quality of life, when people are better-informed.”

Physicians, of course, have known this for decades; the idea of “evidence-based medicine” — that all decisions should be based on real data — was hatched in the 1980s. But the pace of traditional research is slow, and the number of outstanding questions far exceeds the body of evidence to answer them.”