U.S. healthcare spending accounts for roughly 17% of our GDP. That’s equal to about $9,255 per person, for a grand total of—are you ready?—$2.9 trillion per year. It’s more than we spend on education, or on defense, or on anything else.
What’s really disconcerting, though, is that all the money being hurled at the nation’s healthcare problems hasn’t led to better health or better quality care.
In the spring of 2014, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) submitted a report to the White House titled Better Health Care and Lower Costs: Accelerating Improvement through Systems Engineering. PCAST cited “unnecessary burdens and inefficiencies” as a major impediment to the delivery of care, with some studies suggesting “that almost one-third of front-line health-care workers’ time is wasted.” That’s no way to do business. Especially when lives are at stake.
According to PCAST, “successful and sustainable improvement must involve reconfiguring the workflow and overall environment in which these professionals practice, which can help to reduce the burden of work while improving the performance of the system.” We’re already working on that.