We’re Not as Good as We Can Be (02:29)

Is the pace of change in health care going too fast, or too slow? Is it productive?

“If we’re honest with ourselves, we aren’t as good as we can be,” says Gary Kaplan. “I’m very proud of American medicine, I’m a product of it, but I think we can be better.” He points to quality, safety, workplace morale, cost, and other dimensions to improve.

“Frankly, we’re not changing fast enough,” he adds. “It doesn’t always feel that way at any given moment, and solving any given problem on any day of the week, but we need much more urgency. We need to say we’ve got to fix these problems, and we’ve got to do them in ways that leave the health care healthy enough to move forward.”

“It’s immature whether we think it’s too fast or not, because it’s happening,” says Marc Harrison. “Ask all the folks who used to work at Blockbuster how they like change. You better get with it.”

Harrison asks how many people in the room used Amazon in the last 2 weeks, and nearly everyone raises their hands. Half of those hands remain when he asks about using Amazon a year ago. What about 5 years ago? Only a few hands stay in the air.

“It’s here, and by the way, the ‘good old days’ were terrible,” says Harrison, noting that he did in-house calls every third night for 20 years.

Kaplan agrees. When some of his colleagues complain about change, he asks, “What’s so good about the status quo? Or about the old ways?”

“They inevitably are stuck, because it wasn’t so good then.”

From the NEJM Catalyst event Physicians Leading | Leading Physicians at Intermountain Healthcare, July 12, 2017.

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