LAST MONTH we learned again that our national health care system is so beyond broken that it will require not one, but three billionaires and a world-renowned doctor to fix it. The venture — formed by investor Warren Buffett, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and led by Boston surgeon and author Atul Gawande — will get to work on solving what ails us all.
Besides deep pockets, the business leaders have a serious motivation to fix the system — their companies have more than 1 million employees; health care spending in 2016 made up 17.9 percent of the economy and more than $10,348 per person, according to the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That’s a $10 billion health care price tag.
Gawande’s work will undoubtedly be exciting and probably fruitful, but companies across the country don’t have to wait for the next big idea to start fixing our medical system. There are actions that we can take immediately that will create significant savings and health improvements. It will just require a new way of thinking and spending.
The first isn’t sexy, but it is real. More care needs to be delivered in the community. As the former CEO of an academic medical center, I know the importance of academic centers for clinical care, research, and teaching. But I also know that too much care is delivered unnecessarily in these halls.