Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Simple Health Care Case Study

Statue dedicated to the traveller in Oviedo, S...Image via Wikipedia

Not the Swine Flu but....

I like to travel, whether it is for work or for pleasure. Travel rejuvenates. It offers new perspective. It re-energizes.

And sometimes, it catches up with you, or in this post, that travelers nightmare often euphemistically referred to as "Montezuma's Revenge" caught up with me while I was visiting MachuPicchu in Peru.

I left MachuPicchu and literally went to bed in mid-afternoon in one of the most beautiful small town locations you could ever imagine. Soaring mountain peaks, Andean folk music drifting out of cerveza cantinas overlooking a rapidly running mountain river - and I am in bed.

Cramps, nausea, and all the rest. I tried the local tea, recommended as a cure, no help.

Here is it where it gets interesting.

Kyle, my wife goes to the town square where there are a number of 24 hour "botanicas" - small drug stores. She comes back with a five day course of antibiotics that she obtained from a woman speaking little English after giving a very brief description of my symptoms. The cost - 25 soles, or about 8 USD in the local currency. I took three and was able to continue our vacation without missing a thing.

Oh yeah, and the woman threw in a free Inka Cross so that the Gods would help me heal quicker as well!

What is missing from this picture?

  • the physician
  • the $60 office bill
  • the pharmacist
  • the insurance provider co-pay
Mostly, the red tape and crap that make simple health care in the United States so expensive and aggravating.

I know this wouldn't work all the time here, but can't we at least make some our process this simple?

Where is "lean" thinking or "Six Sigma" in health care?

Would it even work?

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