I Found It
I recently had lunch with a good friend, who during our meandering conversation expressed her growing annoyance with the “I found it” people.
“You know, I found collaboration, I found the creative class, I found biotechnology – I found whatever the one thing is that’s going to save the world, and I just have to talk about it constantly until the mind goes numb and eyes glaze over,” she said.
I can empathize, although I’m a bit of an “I found it” person myself. I recently “found” the Atkins diet and lost 25 pounds eating bacon and cheese. This can’t possibly be healthy.
There are plenty of I found it people in health care, mainly because there are plenty of things to find that can be packaged in 30-second sound bites, PowerPoint presentations, strategic plans and those interminable meetings of “leaders and visionaries” where everyone waxes wise about the latest new thing.
With the full assurance of stepping on everyone’s toes at least once, here is a quirky list of health
care I found its:
I found consumer-directed health plans. This will most likely be changed to “consumer choice” health
plans because market research shows people react more positively to having choices than being able to
“direct” their care. This probably isn’t going far until people get over the false notion that health
care is a “free” benefit to which they are entitled.
I found branding. This is all the rage as hospitals and other health providers adopt the language and
marketing techniques of business to increase “market share.” I don’t know about you, but the last thing
I would be thinking about while being wheeled into the operating room at 2 a.m. for emergency surgery
is a “branding” experience.
I found the age wave. Let’s all get ready for the aging boomers who are going to demand high tech,
just-in-time health care in buckets, and pity the poor fools who can’t give them what they want and
find some way to pay for it. Maybe so, but considering this country’s rate of personal savings and the
stark economics of Medicare, I wouldn’t take it to the bank.
I found E-health. These are the people who march into their doctors’ offices with a fat file folder
of downloaded material on their condition, replete with diagnosis and optimum solutions. When they can
find their electronic medical record on the web, we may really have something here.
I found universal health insurance. If those pesky Canadians – who futurist Ian Morrison describes
as “unarmed Americans with health insurance” – can get universal coverage at a fraction of the cost
the U.S. pays and still get better health outcomes, surely we Americans can suck it up and do the right
thing by covering everybody with single-payer insurance. Personally, I can get behind this, but while
the U.S. ranks 37th in the industrialized world on measures of health outcomes, we rank #1 on system
responsiveness. We don’t have to queue up for services – and boy, do we ever pay for it.
I found genomics. It’s only a matter of time before scientists map out the schematic of our molecular
construction set and set us free from disease and other afflictions of the body. In the meantime, it’s
interesting to observe that the ascendancy of genomics and biotechnology research in Arizona is most
often couched in economic development, not health, terms. All of these cool, smart people are going to
set up shop in the urban corridor and transform Phoenix into a happening place. When we stop carving
up the desert at an acre an hour, I’ll believe it.
Things we haven’t found yet, but I wish we would:
I found civility. Health would improve all around if people in expensive SUVs didn’t pull up behind
you on the freeway and give you the bird for not driving 20 miles over the speed limit.
I found wistfulness. A little respect and melancholy for the passage of time and our tiny spec of a
planet in the vastness of an indifferent universe would be nice.
I found love. And it’s fine, yah, yah, yah.
I found a healthy level of skepticism. There ain’t nothin’ new under the sun. In the words of the
physicist Neils Bohr, “There is no truth, and we should seek it lovingly.”
Feedback? Send it my way: Roger.Hughes@slhi.org.
*The Drift reflects the views of the author, and does not represent the official view of SLHI’s Board of Trustees and staff.