It's always fun to look back on the past and laugh at ourselves a little...like that time when we got distracted and fell, or the time when we tried some food we thought we'd like but it tasted terrible.
Sometimes, predictions fall into this same category, like this classic from healthcare:
- "Xrays will prove to be a hoax."--Lord Kelvin
Reflections like those remind us just how wrong smart people, like Lord Kelvin, can be sometimes. (More quotes like that here by the way.)
And now, The Washington Post has shared a similarly spectacularly wrong idea, as described by some really smart people, about healthcare quality that pops up in the news again and again.
The Post shared the idea that improving quality in healthcare will NOT save money.
Well, guess what...that idea's just not true.
It's soooo not true that some of my colleagues, on seeing that idea in The Post, texted me the article immediately.
Why? Because they know that the Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ) measures exactly what's lost to poor quality in healthcare...and the number is routinely large for any healthcare system you want to improve.
Now, I'm not saying that the measure of an idea is how popular it is. Nope--often the greatest, most valuable ideas are the ones that are unique and not widely held.
But this idea, that improving quality can't save money in healthcare, is just plain wrong. And it's dangerous.
Because, after all, if working on quality is the expensive thing to do, well, then that's one less reason to do it.
So it's especially important to dispel the idea that quality improvement in healthcare doesn't save money. Guess what healthcare colleagues: it absolutely does.
And just because our field hasn't sorted how to do it well (yet) doesn't mean that it's not coming. It also doesn't mean that quality improvement can't save money. Because it sure can.
Bottom line: the "math" setup beneath is just plain wrong. Savings from quality improvement do not always involve spending more money and, even when they do, we see significant recovery far beyond the expense we incur.
Take a look at the excerpt from the article beneath and share your thoughts anytime. Happy to discuss!
These studies both chip away at ideas that stem from the overarching belief that improving the quality of health care will also save money. “It turns out, when you do the math, it’s just very tough to save money when you’re doing things to improve quality. It’s very hard to save a dollar when you spend a dollar,” said J. Michael McWilliams, a professor of health-care policy at Harvard Medical School.