Simplifying the Complexity of Healthcare

With the passing of the US Healthcare Reform bill, we now have a more complex healthcare system than ever before, as shown in the detailed organization chart developed by the Joint Economic Committee minority. The chart displays a bewildering array of new government agencies, regulations and mandates
that appear to do little to simplify the complexity of powerful healthcare silos. These silos, while trying to please everyone, end up pleasing no one. Predicting how the interactions with this dizzying healthcare system impact our health outcomes is far too complex for the use of reductionist scientific approaches and traditional statistical analysis. What if we took a different approach? What if we modeled the patient’s perspective of how a person navigates the complex healthcare system in order to gain a view of their experiences and how this impacts their health outcomes? To understand how this concept works, let’s take the simple example of traffic. It’s very difficult to understand traffic unless you understand the behaviors of individual drivers. When you model the simple acceleration and deceleration of an individual driver, then can you start to understand some of the weird properties of traffic. For example, a traffic jam moves backward, but all the cars move forward. Applying this concept to healthcare, we can model the patient’s journey as they navigate the healthcare system seeking treatment for an ailment or choosing an insurance provider. What emerges are insights into what tipping points arise that help or impede a patient in their interactions with the healthcare system. Shouldn’t this be the measure of how to improve the healthcare system?


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