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When is a system not a system?

Posted Dec 23 2008 9:14pm
Over at Musings of a Distracted Mind Dr. Rob has recently posted an intriguing analysis of the healthcare system of the United States (U.S.), entitled When a System is not a System where he outlines the various segments of healthcare purporting that the healthcare “system” is actually not a system at all.

His analysis brings to light how our current healthcare delivery method resembles a wheel with the patient in the center and the connecting spokes representing the many seemly independent factions of healthcare. Each offshoot has a direct line of communication with the patient for some aspect of care.

The modification that needs to be added which is dissimilar to a traditional wheel is the direct link between the outer spokes. Our current “system” should not be represented with a solid link, rather a dashed link at the most to connect a few of the major factions. For example insurance companies are linked to hospitals, physicians, and patients. However as Dr. Rob so eloquently describes, hospitals and physicians are typically not linked together.

After reading his prose my thought was perhaps the fact that our system is not really a system at all is why we as a country and many others have had such a difficult time trying to shape healthcare, fix it, and improve it on a macro scale.

The current organization of U.S. healthcare is clearly fragmented. In light of this fragmentation one would likely come to the conclusion that some sort of consolidation is in order. I suspect that if we “stay the course” [pardon the pun here] with our current healthcare structure it will be virtually impossible to make significant changes for the betterment. It is time to defrag the hard drive and reboot. The sixty-four dollar question is how?
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