Friday, February 15, 2013

Healthcare at Crossroads by Dr. Zeke Emanuel

I had a rare opportunity to attend an evening seminar by Dr. Zeke Emanuel. He writes for the New York Times, has published several books, and served as Obama’s health care advisor. He is also a great lover of food! I was surprised to find that he’d written many articles about food and cooking for the Atlantic.

Everyone’s looking to the next few years (and the next administration) for big changes in healthcare, both with new policies and the aging baby boomer generation. I was always more focused on the research aspect, so this lecture was very insightful.

A couple of notes from the lecture:

  • Demand for luxury goods tend to increase with increasing GDP. Interestingly, healthcare behaves the same way- like a luxury good (picture from this blog):


  • Productivity of healthcare providers has gone down! (Education providers have also gone down in productivity.)
  • Case studies of efficient healthcare clinics showed that they used specialization and data-driven tools (to monitor health status and changes). They also looked after the mental health of patients by providing psychological help and decreasing wait time for test results. It’s important to treat patients as full human beings, not just as mouths or sodium tanks.
  • Why aren’t healthcare costs transparent? We should push for healthcare price transparency to better gauge cost value of care given at one hospital versus the other.

Something about the last point: I’ve always wondered this. Even at dental offices, the price at the end was a mystery number that seemed to come out of nowhere. I couldn’t compare prices at dental offices because the costs seemed to depend on so many factors… which is why I’m surprised there are so many dental Groupon deals.

It was a great informative evening. And I do love Di Bruno Brothers