Does Harvard's Michael E. Porter have the right idea for reforming the health care system? You can sample his ideas in this story
from today's Boston Globe
. It summarizes an 18-page piece ("Fixing Competition in U.S. Health Care (HBR Research Report)" by Porter and Elizabeth Olmstead Teisberg) in the June issue of The Harvard Business Review
. Here's HBR's description of the piece:
The U.S. health care system is in bad shape. Medical services are restricted or rationed, many patients receive poor care, and high rates of preventable medical error persist. There are wide and inexplicable differences in costs and quality among providers and across geographic areas. In well-functioning, competitive markets, such outcomes would be inconceivable. In health care, these results are intolerable. Competition in health care needs to change, say the authors. It currently operates at the wrong level. Payers, health plans, providers, physicians, and others in the system wrangle over the wrong things, in the wrong locations, and at the wrong times. System participants divide value instead of creating it. (And in some instances, they destroy it.) They shift costs onto one another, restrict access to care, stifle innovation, and hoard information--all without truly benefiting patients. This form of zero-sum competition must be replaced by competition at the level of preventing, diagnosing, and treating individual conditions and diseases. Among the authors' well-researched recommendations for reform: Standardized information about individual diseases and treatments should be collected and disseminated widely so patients can make informed choices about their care. Payers, providers, and health plans should establish transparent billing and pricing mechanisms to reduce cost shifting, confusion, pricing discrimination, and other inefficiencies in the system. And health care providers should be experts in certain conditions and treatments rather than try to be all things to all people. U.S. employers can also play a big role in reform by changing how they manage their health benefits.