What’s Possible for Health Care

The IOM report “Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America” is certainly a worthwhile reading for anybody in health care, but it also demonstrates two ways of how to make a complex topic more digestible: First, the use of analogies: “Consider the impact on American services if other industries routinely operated in the same manner as many aspects of health care: – If banking were like health care, automated teller machine (ATM) transactions would take not seconds but perhaps days or longer as a result of unavailable or misplaced records. – If home building were like health care, carpenters, electricians, and plumbers each would work with different blueprints, with very little coordination. – If shopping were like health care, product prices would not be posted, and the price charged would vary widely within the same store, depending on the source of payment. – If automobile manufacturing were like health care, warranties for cars that require manufacturers to pay for defects would not exist. As a result, few factories would seek to monitor and improve production line performance and product quality. – If airline travel were like health care, each pilot would be free to design his or her own preflight safety check, or not to perform one at all.” Second, the use of a visual representation: Find in Figure 1 a snippet of a larger graphic providing a memorable mental picture for the complex relationships described in the 381-page report.