14 Provoking Thoughts and Opinions About Health Care by Doctors

When you can get an opinion from someone working on the front lines, it's worth pausing to consider. Here are thoughts and opinions about health care by doctors. Getting their insight as caregivers laying hands on patients, and in some cases as executives managing a health care delivery system administratively, should help us with a better direction for affordably caring for our nation's sick.

1.  "Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must - must - redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate.

Excellent health care is by definition re-distributional."

-- Donald Berwick, MD, former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Prior to his work in the administration, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a not-for-profit organization helping to lead the improvement of health care throughout the world.

2. "America has the best doctors, the best nurses, the best hospitals, the best medical technology, the best medical breakthrough medicines in the world.  There is absolutely no reason we should not have in this country the best health care in this world."

-- Bill Frist, MD, American physician, businessman, and politician. Former U.S. Senator from Tennessee.

3. "Electronic health records are the answer to improving patient care."

-- Fleur Sack, MD

4. "Are doctors who make mistakes villains? No, because then we all are."

-- Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, American surgeon, author, public health researcher

5. "Patient engagement is the blockbuster drug of the century."

-- Farzad Mostashari, MD, Former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

6. "And in the end, when the life went out of him, and my hands could work no more, I left from that place into the night and wept--for myself, for life, for the tragedy of death's coming.

Then I rose, and walking back to the suffering-house forgot again my own wounds, for the sake of healing theirs."

-- Anonymous ER doctor

7.  "Competition makes things come out right. Well, what does that mean in health care? More hospitals so they compete with each other. More doctors compete with each other. More pharmaceutical companies. We set up a war. Wait a minute, let's talk about the patient. The patient doesn't need a war."

-- Donald Berwick, MD

8. "A people who don't make provision for their own sick and suffering are not worthy of civilization."

-- Daniel Hale Williams, MD,  general surgeon who, in 1893, performed the second documented successful pericardium surgery to repair a wound. He also founded Provident Hospital, the first non-segregated hospital in the United States.

9. “15% – 20% of care is ‘clinically inappropriate.'"

-- Brent James, MD, Chief Quality Officer at Intermountain Healthcare

10. “One of three American healthcare dollars is wasted and for the past decade, all wage increases have been absorbed by healthcare costs.”

-- Donald Berwick, MD

11. “I don’t blame anybody – they’re just doing what makes sense and we have to change what makes sense.”

-- Donald Berwick, MD

12. “When it comes to health, your zip code matters more than your genetic code.”

-- Tony Iton, MD, The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships 2013

13. “More than 50 percent (of our MinuteClinic patients) are effectively medically homeless. Patients at MinuteClinic did as well or better than those treated in traditional primary care settings, yet cost was 40 to 80 percent lower than in other settings.”

-- Andrew J. Sussman, MD , President, MinuteClinic and Senior Vice President/Associate CMO, CVS Caremark 

14. "We have to be very careful not to blame the patients. A lot of the conversation [around patient engagement] has been, how do we get them to do stuff? To me, that’s not engagement.”

-- Victor Montori, MD, Director of Healthcare Delivery Research and Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine

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