Health Care Essay

983 WordsApr 27, 20094 Pages
Reform will be slow and difficult, but there is no alternative HEALTH care in rich countries presents a paradox. On the one hand, advances in medicine are extending life and improving its quality--gains of great value to those who benefit from them. On the other hand, the evidence of error rates shows that hospitals and doctors routinely break the first rule of medicine, to do no harm. Widespread waste is evident, yet the costs of health care spiral ever upwards, causing increasing alarm among individuals, employers and taxpayers. Medical costs are so buoyant that all containment strategies seem doomed to eventual failure. The revelation that much health care is of poor quality poses some troubling questions for the medical profession in rich countries. "There has to be a shake-up in the medical world, led by the medical world," says Mr Bodaken of California's Blue Shield. Doctors have traditionally treasured their independence and resisted outside interference. But medical care is now delivered through expensive, complex systems that require sophisticated management to avoid errors, to ensure that patients get appropriate advice, tests and treatments, and to keep costs as low as possible. Doctors need to be able to work collaboratively in teams spanning professional boundaries. Medical education, still locked in an old-fashioned apprenticeship model, should prepare doctors for these new demands. Alain Enthoven of Stanford University says that teaching doctors how to deliver cost-effective care will require a transformation in medical training. A long, cool self-appraisal by the medical profession is essential, but on its own it will not be sufficient. Doctors and hospitals around the developed world preside over a seriously defective system of medical-care delivery, which will need comprehensive re-engineering. Information

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