2 Minutes, 38 Seconds

Recall my discussion of my Slide that reads, simply ... 26. As in, another foreign-owned factory in China opens every 26 minutes. Well, now there's a companion that reads ... 2 minutes, 38 seconds. "Incidentally" ... it's set on the background of a Tombstone. The point? I'm on the warpath. Started with a speech to a healthcare group last week. A recent report suggests that "acute care" facilities ("hospitals," to us civilians) kill 195,000 patients a year due to quality lapses. That is, one victim of crappy management every ... 2 minutes, 38 seconds.

My rant (if more than that stat-slide is necessary): This issue is not about Dollars & Cents. As I said to my group, "If a truck rolled up to the back gate, dumped a full load of gold bullion, and left ... there is, alas, no reason to believe patient safety would improve in the next 5 years." We have, after all, been focusing on Patient Safety for several years now, and as one expert said ... nuthin' much is happening.

I have ginned up a Special Presentation titled "Health'care': The Rant." I'd urge you to read this indictment of our biggest (and most important) industry. Here's the opening salvo (slide), my 10 Point Manifesto:

Tom's Cold Fury at Healthcare "Professionals," Especially Acute Care Operatives:

1. You are killers: "Quality" remains a bad joke.
2. Pick off bunches of Low-hanging Fruit. (E.g., Tom's 1st Executive order as Your Next President: Providing a Handwritten Prescription is punishable by not less than 60 days of Hard Time.)
3. The "science" in "medicine" is often fanciful: Most "scientific" "treatments" are unverified. (So quit the kneejerk denigration of alternative therapies—trust me, Breathing Meditation beats Univasc; Good Nutrition beats Lipitor; Regular Exercise beats bypass surgery.)
4. You continue to obsess only on after-the-act "fixes," the automatic resort to Chemicals and Knives, rather than P-W-H-C ... Prevention-Wellness-Healing-Care.
5. Your Mindful Lifelong (mine) Failure to focus on P-W-H-C will probably cost me a decade of longevity, Canyon Ranch/Lenox not withstanding. THAT PISSES ME OFF. (For one thing, I need those 10 years to spread the P-W-H-C Credo to "health'care'" "professionals.")
6. You are hereby ordered to stop using the term "healthcare": You haven't earned the right to utter the word "care"!
7. $$$$$ Are Not the Issue/Excuse I: Quality Is free!!! (There are MANY who are ... Getting This Right ... without Buckets of $$$$$.)
8. $$$$$ Are Not the Issue/Excuse II: Planetree Alliance/Griffin Hospital "Models The Way" ... on P-W-H-C ... Every Day. IT CAN BE DONE!
10. All "members of staff"—regardless of "professional discipline"—are Healing Arts Practitioners. OR TURN IN YOUR EMPLOYEE BADGE. NOW.

I showed this to one M.D. friend,* who said, simply, "Wow." (*Note: She is one of the few who qualifies as a "wellness"-prevention fanatic.)

I plan to make this a centerpiece of my work. "This"? I am not planning to "take on healthcare." I leave that to others. I am simply cherrypicking two issues : (1) Quality of acute "care" treatment. (I will put CARE in Quotes ... as in, Health"care" ... for the foreseeable future.) (2) A revolutionary shift from fix-it-after-its-broken to wellness-prevention-healing-care. (I will unmercifully "push" the Planetree/Plantree Alliance/Griffith Hospital "model" in the World of Patient-centered, Healing-oriented Acute Care; and the Canyon Ranch "model" in the World of Wellness.) Here's one more Summary Slide that summarizes my concerns-focus:

1. Hospital "quality control," at least in the U.S.A., is a bad, bad joke: Depending on whose stats you believe, hospitals kill 100,000 or so of us a year—and wound many times that number. Finally, "they" are "getting around to" dealing with the issue. Well, thanks. And what is it we've been buying for our Trillion or so bucks a year? The fix is eminently do-able ... which makes the condition even more intolerable. ("Disgrace" is far too kind a label for the "condition." Who's to blame? Just about everybody, starting with the docs who consider oversight from anyone other than fellow clan members to be unacceptable.)

2. The "system"—training, docs, insurance incentives, "culture," "patients" themselves—is hopelessly-mindlessly-insanely (as I see it) skewed toward fixing things (e.g. Me) that are broken—not preventing the problem in the first place and providing the Maintenance Tools necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Sure, bio-medicine will soon allow us to understand and deal with individual genetic pre-dispositions. (And hooray!) But take it from this 61-year old, decades of physical and psychological self-abuse can literally be reversed in relatively short order by an encompassing approach to life that can only be described as a "Passion for Wellness (and Well-being)." Patients—like me—are catching on in record numbers; but "the system" is highly resistant. (Again, the doctors are among the biggest sinners—no surprise, following years of acculturation as the "man-with-the-white-coat-who-will-now-miraculously-dispense-fix it-pills-for-you-the-unwashed." Come to think of it, maybe I'll start wearing a White Coat to my doctor's office—after all, I am the Professional-in-Charge when it comes to my Body & Soul. Right?)

I will have lots more to say on this topic ... count on it. I will report that I got my health"care" execs' attention when I repeatedly referred to their "places of work" as "the killing fields." Hey somebody's gotta say this, no?


Tom Peters posted this on November 1, 2004, in Healthcare.
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