Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 10.
The numbers sting: the U.S. spends exorbitantly on health care, and yet the medical outcomes are mediocre. The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. 37 in health outcomes - that's behind Oman (8), Greece (14), Colombia (22), Canada (30).
Yet the U.S. can't be faulted for penny-pinching on medicine. The health care spend is 17.1% of GDP, dramatically higher than most other nations (Germany is 11.2%; Canada is 10.7%).
What's up? Know that research is plain that our health care system is deeply flawed. Worse is this: years ago U.S. medicine tumbled to its lagging quality outcomes. What's happened since? Not much, said a recent scholarly article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Wrote the authors: "Widespread deficits in the quality of U.S. health care were described over a decade ago." The JAMA critique continued: "Despite more than a decade of efforts, the clinical quality of outpatient care delivered to American adults has not consistently improved….Deficits in care continue to pose serious hazards to the health of the American public."
On the plus side, said the JAMA report, "patient experience" has improved - we are happy customers - but we are probably not receiving care and treatments we should be getting and yet we also are getting treatments that serve no good purpose and may even be harmful. That is what lead author Dr. David Levine of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University in Boston has gone on record with.