Friday, December 12, 2008

Cup Holder Conundrum

Over the last few days, many of you watched, as I did, the Pan-Canadian Broadcast of IHI's National Forum. The keynote speeches weren't very cheery.

Don Berwick looked downright ticked off. Change isn't progressing fast enough for his liking. I suspect that most people involved in quality improvement share his frustration. Dr. Berwick imagined 2 letters that he would write, for his daughter to open 20 years from now. One letter presumes that the quality agenda will flourish over the next 2 decades. The second letter is an apology: Sorry we let the nay-sayers beat us down. Sorry we couldn't budge the inertia of groups with a vested interest in the status quo. Sorry that you're paying the price 20 years from now.

John Kitzhaber – ER physician and former Oregon governor – made a passionate appeal for reforming the US healthcare system before it becomes financially unsustainable. His perspective is purely American, but in the current economic situation, Canadians should take notice as well.


It made me think of automobile cup-holders.

North American automakers have been pilloried as they plead (and make not-so-veiled threats) for a financial bailout. GM has made an astonishing mea culpa: We acknowledge we have disappointed you. Whether or not you think they are sincere (GM gets savaged in some of the comments below the article), some of their admissions could just as easily come from the healthcare industry.