And You Thought Sick-care Was Sick

Changing our sick-care systems into healthcare systems will not be easy but will be an important part of lowering crushing future costs to the nation.

Healthcare USA, Inc. is 2 systems of systems, not just one. Sick-care, where we spend 88% of about $3 trillion, is about taking care of sick people. The miniscule crumbs left are spent on healthcare like disease prevention, public, population, and community health. Behavioral health is hardly on the radar at all. Yet, a significant percentage of disease, almost half by some estimates, is due to life style and behavior choices. The disease burden, for example, childhood obesity, is only getting worse and threatens to make this younger generation the first in American history to be less healthy than the previous one.

Sick-care is not only sick and wasteful, but dangerous too. Health care innovation is accelerating quickly, but it seems digipreneurs and other care delivery innovators are getting ahead of themselves, like sick-care practitioners, while they are racing to capture—literally—the hearts and minds of potential patients. If you read The Wall Street Journal instead of the New England Journal of Medicine almost every day you will see a story about the new new thing of care-personalized medicine, population health, a new data scientist appointed by President Obama, Apple/Google/Epic news and new care delivery and clinical testing models like Theranos.

Yet, like sick-care, healthcare is struggling to get it right. Until they do, we can expect to see recalls, technologies that add cost not value, failed product launches, regulatory spasms, law suits and crashing stock prices of some high flyers that went over the edge.

Changing our sick-care systems into healthcare systems will not be easy but will be an important part of lowering crushing future costs to the nation. Creative destruction is messy, but since we are dealing with patients’ health and lives, it should not be dangerous. Testing and clinically validating elements of a lean startup business model canvass should not be done on the backs of patients. Medicine is different.