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Nov 21, 2019

In this podcast originally published early last year, Alex Akers and I had a chance to speak with Dr. Robert Pearl about his book Mistreated: Why We Think We’re Getting Good Health Care—And Why We’re Usually Wrong. Besides being an author, Dr. Pearl is former CEO of the Permanente Medical Group; he’s a frequent keynote speaker; and he is also the host of a podcast called Fixing Healthcare. 

Here’s what Dr. Pearl said at the recent HLTH conference in Vegas, and I’m editorializing a little bit here. Dr. Pearl said day after day, patients and their families experience the unnecessary frustrations and heartaches that are so rife in American health care. Mistreatment is certainly a continuum, but in all of its manifestations, it’s pretty much nothing less than rampant. I mean, how else do Americans manage to pay more than twice as much per patient for a health system that ranks 37th in the world? There are definitely bright spots, and there are definitely great men and women working within health care. So, I do not—and I’m certain Dr. Pearl does not—mean to be all doom and gloom. But we’ve got some realities to deal with here.

There’s a simple answer to the question, “What happens if we fail to change?” Disruption will happen. While the pace of health care disruption in many sectors hasn’t exactly set world speed records, it’s inevitable. And, according to Dr. Pearl, status quo health care providers will lament their decision not to have embraced change sooner.

To wrap our heads around this, Dr. Pearl suggests that there are four must-haves, four pillars to get the American health care industry back on track. Spoiler alert: Those four pillars are (1) integration, (2) pay-for-value, (3) modernize our approach to technology, and (4) clinician- and physician-led organizations.

You can learn more by connecting with Dr. Pearl on Twitter at @RobertPearlMD.