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Don't Fear the Future of Healthcare - It's Working

William "Kip" Schumacher, MD, for HealthLeaders Media, March 3, 2011

Am I the only one excited about the future of healthcare?

With all the prevailing pessimism about America's "dysfunctional" health system, optimists (and I am one) sometimes feel stranded on our own lonely islands.  

It's not that we don't know what the challenges are.  I have been practicing emergency medicine for over 30 years, and there is no better place to absorb the myriad obstacles to delivering quality, cost-effective care than a hospital emergency department. 

Shrinking budgets, rising costs, an aging population, escalating patient morbidity, an inadequate supply of clinicians, and the swirling changes brought about by health reform are all legitimates causes for concern.

Yet to me the arc of the last 30 years is encouraging. Despite every curve ball that has been thrown their way, healthcare administrators and clinicians today are delivering increasingly better care in a more cohesive environment. With more emphasis on quality, on reducing errors, and on working in coordinated clinical teams, I would rather be a patient today – particularly in a hospital – than at any time in the past.

And there is an opportunity now to take another major step forward.   Until recently, providers as a general rule have claimed quality as their turf and payers have laid claim to costs.  

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4 comments on "Don't Fear the Future of Healthcare - It's Working"


liberalrebel (3/6/2011 at 2:41 PM)
Yes, President Obama has introduced reform here in the U.S. but how do you explain similar intiatives being implemented in other countries? Is this also communist plot to take away individual liberties? The World Economic Forum is driving a health data initiative for the member nations to develop a Health IT (HIT)program similar to the program in the health reform initiatives here in the U.S. for its member natios. This is a simplistic response and of course you will find snarky responses to support your opinions so have at it.

Bob Dimick (3/5/2011 at 8:18 PM)
So very good to hear positive commentary from Dr. Schumacher! Medicine has overcome a great many challenges over the past 100 years - we can keep going strong! The heart of Medicine is compassion for our fellow humans. As physicians we all try to alleviate suffering. Kris Johnson in the first comment to this article: calm down, stop shouting, and try to care about someone else besides yourself.

Kris Johnson (3/4/2011 at 4:40 AM)
It's all part of putting all Americans on a network containing our medical records. (That's one of the things the National Socialists (Nazis) did first, collect medical records, did you know that?) So much for having any reasonable expectation of privacy, as Americans have a right to. So much for states rights. So much for control of our lives. When the government has a say-so about our medical condition, what DON'T they have a say-so about? How long before they tell us what to eat, when to die? But the fools who don't understand individual liberty, who are uneducated in WHY our Constitution says what it says, will have us all living in tyranny. It's only a matter of time. NOT TO MENTION, OBAMACARE HAS BEEN RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL, AND JUDGE VINCENT HAS TOLD OBAMA AND FRIENDS TO CEASE AND DESIST ALL PREPARATION!!