Episode 5: Don Berwick brings a global perspective to fixing US healthcare

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This month, co-hosts Robert Pearl and Jeremy Corr agree our nation could learn so much from our next guest, Dr. Don Berwick.

Few healthcare leaders have as much global experience, industry respect and applied knowledge as Don. He is the former president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and led the organization’s 100,000 Lives Campaign, a nationwide initiative to significantly reduce morbidity and mortality in American healthcare. He’s the former administrator for CMS and has served on the faculty for Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health.

As always, guests are given 10 minutes to present a plan for radically improving the U.S. medical system. As expected, Don made the most of every minute.

You won’t want to miss any of Don’s thoughts. Here are five of his most memorable quotes:

1. On the responsibility of becoming “Leader of American Healthcare.”

“I decline. This can only be done together. And the most important component of action is that action begin to be consolidated among stakeholders. We have a highly fragmented system in which people are trying to solve problems separately. That is just not going to work. So, the first step I take is to form a table of healthcare leaders and stakeholders who we share a common intent. We’re going to have to fix healthcare together.”

2. On his trademark Triple Aim.

“We need a system of three goals: better care for people when they’re in the care system, better health for populations, and lower per capita cost through improvement, not through rationing or withholding. That was the mission I brought to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services when I took over in the Obama administration. The Triple Aim became tattooed on every single person there: better care, better health, and lower costs.”

3. On healthcare as a human right:

“Concomitant with the Triple Aim is another goal, which is healthcare as a human right. For some reason that I do not understand, this country has been ambivalent about declaring as an intention what every other civilized democracy in the world has said, which is healthcare is a human right. It’s the same as the right to clean air, to primary education or to food security.

4. On lowering per capita costs in healthcare:

“I’m worried about 18% of GDP (being spent on healthcare). I would set an unequivocal goal to be at 15% within the next five to six years. There’s no reason we can’t do it at 15. Every other nation is below 13 or 12. If we get out of fee-for-service payment, if we move toward global population-based budgets, the payment system should get far easier to manage and far lower cost. There’s probably 10% of the total American healthcare bill right there, right in the simplification of payment systems.”

5. On healthcare’s many improvement metrics:

“We have made so many stupid rules and those stupid rules have to be stopped. They have to be taken down. Many of the are rules make no sense, metrics that don’t help people at all. We need to put ourselves on a metric diet, a measurement diet. I’ve called for a reduction in the amount of measurement that’s going on in American healthcare by 75% over a four or five year period.”

READ: Full transcript of our discussion with Don Berwick

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We hoped you enjoy this episode of “Fixing Healthcare.” A very big thanks to Dr. Donald Berwick for coming on the show and sharing his extraordinary ideas.

Next month, healthcare futurist, Ian Morrison joins the show. Ian is an internationally known author, consultant and futurist, specializing in long-term forecasting and planning with an emphasis on healthcare in today’s changing business environment. He has worked with more than 100 Fortune 500 companies and is president emeritus of the Institute For The Future and chair of its health advisory panel. Ian is the author of the bestselling books “Health Care in The New Millennium: Vision, Values and Leadership,” and “The Second Curve: Managing the Velocity of Change.” We cannot wait to have him on the show.

Fixing Healthcare is a co-production of Dr. Robert Pearl and Jeremy Corr. Subscribe to the show via Apple Podcasts or wherever you find podcasts. Join the conversation or suggest a guest by following the show on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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