Mr. Jacobs Gives it To Us Straight and Mr. Leavitt Paints a Pretty Online Picture

F. Nick Jacobs, CEO of Windber Research Institute and Medical Center, has a great 'day in the life of a hospital CEO' post for all of us interested in hospital administration.

Read it here. Thanks Mr. Jacobs (since I haven't yet been invited to call you 'Nick'...) - I still want the job.

It's not often a Cabinet member impresses the heck out of me with innovative thinking on their industry of choice. Coverage of Michael Leavitt's speech at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government had me cheering though. Read a review here.

We need to be able to compare cost and quality - gee what a concept! Good call Mike.

He did make one inference I find implausible...after evaluating costs for colonoscopies, Mr. Leavitt (Health and Human Services Secretary) decided to have his procedure in Utah, at a cost of approx. 3k. He found he'd pay close to 6k in DC. That's great - good consumer decision-making there.

However, Leavitt also comments "There is no reason why healthcare costs and quality can't be standardized across the country."

At this point I stopped nodding my head and started shaking it in denial. Quality Mr. Leavitt, can be standardized yes, to some extent.

JCAHO is working on this. They're also working on a sustainable revenue model built around consulting to help you improve your quality levels to meet their standards, but that's a talk for another time.

Some hospitals will be always rise to the top as market leaders though, and some will be mid-range, and some will always show poorly and be one step away from closing their doors.

Superior service is impossible to implement on a universal level with no variations. If this were the case, Ford would be just as great at kaizen as Toyota with some coaching and funds.

Theoretically, this is a great idea, but it just doesn't hold up in practice.

We don't pay the same for housing, a college education, or a gallon of gas everywhere across the country - regional differences persist in various markets based on supply and demand. How can we expect healthcare to follow a universal pricing model?

Now, the idea that within 8 years we'll be able to hop online and Google the lowest prices for healthcare goods and services may sounds nuts, but it's a future a few strong market drivers can help drop-kick into the realm of possibility.

The question is, will you be one of them?

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