I just received my latest issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR). I have found HBR to be interesting and informative over the years. Do I understand every article in each issue? Heck no! Sometimes the articles are very good, sometimes I say "what was it that I just read" and sometimes I say "you have got to be kidding me," as is the case with today's blog.
As I looked at the table of contents, my eye caught an article entitled, "Delivering World-Class Health Care, Affordably." I thought, wow, how appropriate for me to read, especially with what is going on with US health care. I went to page 117 and low and behold, there is a photo of a health clinic in Mysore, India. In the photo, there is a male nurse or aide preparing a bed for a patient in, from what I could see in the photo, one room where there were around 17 beds. The entire photo depicts a scene from what would be comparable to a US hospital in the 1930's or 40's. The sub-title for the article was, "Innovative hospitals in India are pointing the way." When I read further, the article described innovations in the delivery of care and quality in hospitals in India, comparing their results favorably to US benchmarks. The article suggests that US hospitals could learn a great deal from India in their delivery of care model and that we should be applying their low-cost innovations.
What the article seems to lose sight of or gloss over is that in the US we have 122,000 federal regulations that we are responsible for as we care for our patients and is data that is being captured truly comparing apples to apples. We don't even capture data in the US in a standardized manner. For example, infant mortality is defined differently from state to state. In addition, our salaries for staff and physicians are not comparable to India; we have medical liability issues where they have none; and we have considerable investments in our infrastructure, as is so well contrasted in the photo of the clinic in Mysore, India.
As the physicians in India look to the West for advances in medicine, I will stick with the innovations that we are now introducing through health care reform and let those in India concentrate on keeping the cost of care low so they can meet the basic health care needs of its many citizens. Currently, their ability to meet those needs is described as abysmal.