We’ll also need data, if we’re going to know what is succeeding. Among the most important, and least noticed, provisions in the reform legislation is one in the House bill to expand our ability to collect national health statistics. The poverty of our health-care information is an embarrassment. At the end of each month, we have county-by-county data on unemployment, and we have prompt and detailed data on the price of goods and commodities; we can use these indicators to guide our economic policies. But try to look up information on your community’s medical costs and utilization—or simply try to find out how many people died from heart attacks or pneumonia or surgical complications—and you will discover that the most recent data are at least three years old, if they exist at all, and aren’t broken down to a county level that communities can learn from. It’s like driving a car with a speedometer that tells you only how fast all cars were driving, on average, three years ago. We have better information about crops and cows than we do about patients. If health-care reform is to succeed, the final legislation must do something about this.
Another thought provoking article by Atul Gawande.
He’s absolutely correct… *The poverty of our health-care information is an embarrassment.*
His challenge is no small task… but certainly worthy of discussion. I’m game!