Thursday, June 4, 2009

We are witnessing a Battle for the Soul of American Medicine

The title of this column is a direct quote from an insightful article in the New Yorker magazine, June 1, 2009, page 36, written by Dr. Atul Gwande, entitled "The Cost Conundrum, What a Texas town can teach us about health care". Read this article!

"Somewhere in the United States at this moment, a patient with chest pain, or a tumor, or a cough is seeing a doctor. And the damning question we have to ask is whether the doctor is set up to meet the needs of the patient, first and foremost, or to maximize revenue.

There is no insurance system that will make the two aims match perfectly. But having a system that does so much to misalign them has proved disastrous. As economists have often pointed out, we pay doctors for quantity, not quality. As they point out less often, we also pay them as individuals, rather than as members of a team working together for their patients. Both practices have made for serious problems."


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