American health care is obsessed with more.
But the industry is beginning to realize that more isn’t always what’s best for patients. Dr. Atul Gawande, a globally respected surgeon, recently pointed out the harm that can come when physicians do more, particularly for patients near the end of their lives. And Charles Munger, vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and partner to Warren Buffett, called health care’s fee-for-service payment model dysfunctional because it rewards doctors for performing more procedures, not for achieving better outcomes.
In the pursuit of more, American health care has too often missed the mark on better. And to become better, health care must change its culture, its financial structure and how we educate our nation’s medical students.
Dr. Gawande, a best-selling author and one of the leading physician voices in the country, took on this issue during this year’s Stanford Medical School annual Tseng Lectureship. At the end of his keynote address on the medical needs of the elderly and the terminally ill, I participated in a panel discussion along with him and Munger on the future of America’s failing health care system.
Related book: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End