No one questions the fact that health care costs are rising fast. Too fast, probably. Now that the industry has promised to join President Obama in controlling health care costs, I have a suggestion: do it smart. Mindless cutting of health care costs will result in loss of health care quality. Don’t just cut costs, be sure that you are cutting non-value added costs. The best tools for identifying these costs are Lean, Six Sigma, and Lean Six Sigma. To a trained expert in one of these skill sets a casual glance at any hospital reveals mind-boggling opportunities. We see waste everywhere in health care. From the batch-and-queue approach in the emergency departments, to the cumbersome admissions and discharge processes, in the medication errors and medical mistakes. And many, many other areas.
According to Mr. Obama
“These groups are voluntarily coming together to make an unprecedented commitment. Over the next 10 years, from 2010 to 2019, they are pledging to cut the growth rate of national health care spending by 1.5 percentage points each year — an amount that’s equal to over $2 trillion.”
The goal is admirable, albeit arbitrary. Nonetheless, it is a call to action that is long overdue. Let’s all hope, for the sake of our health and the health of our loved ones, that the spending cuts are the right ones.