Walls or Windmills

This blog was written by Dr. Steve Schutzer and was originally posted here on February 9, 2017.

Hillarycare, Obamacare, Trumpcare – doesn’t matter. These are clearly not long term solutions to the healthcare crisis and will not lay the tracks for universal access, affordability and quality care for our population. $3.3T is more than enough to provide quality healthcare for all Americans, and then some. The answers are, conceptually, not rocket science.

To start, antiquated, anti-competitive, misguided healthcare regulations must now be replaced by contemporary legislation that protects consumers but fosters free market competition based on the value delivered to a patient for their specific medical condition. Provided with access to credible, adjudicated clinical outcomes information and true cost of care data, today’s digitally adept healthcare customers will pave the way to real value.

This works in every other service sector, and ours should not be an exception. It is completely unacceptable, and inconceivable (and personally embarrassing), that our healthcare customers can have instantaneous access on their smartphones for the best quality toaster oven but not for a surgeon they will be trusting their life to. Having worked in the current “system” for over 30 years, and remaining frustrated by the obstacles we face to solve this problem from within, it is abundantly clear that if we don’t figure it out, Silicon Valley will. In fact, they already are.

As venture capital investments for digital health products continues to rise annually ($2B in the first half of 2016 alone), exciting customer centric workarounds for the stubborn existing obstacles are being piloted each day. I agree with Ramon Llamas’ personal statement, “We cannot continue to depend on the providers of health care to fix our problems. Therefore, I envision health care as a collaboration between patient and provider to maintain, rather than repair, an individual’s health and wellness”. As evidence that Mr. Llamas’ dream is already materializing and gaining steam, check out PatientsLikeMe, a rapidly expanding connected community of over 500,000 people sharing and crowd-sourcing their own healthcare solutions.

This calls to mind an ancient Chinese proverb – “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.”  I am unambiguously confident that the solutions lay within ourselves and that collectively we can provide the much needed wind. I know I am in till the end.