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Financial, Medical, and Life Insights


A sense of curiosity and better understanding may be just what the doctor ordered as the healthcare industry continues to evolve.

Aha! Moment

I spend a lot of time chasing insights, clarity, the “AHA!” moment which parts the clouds for a moment. Gaps in our knowledge cause a certain kind of small pain and our curiosity seeks to alleviate that itch by better understanding. We are all works in progress in that regard, from medical issues, to financial ones, to living life.

For instance, every new study leads us to modify our understanding, so that we have to remember something new. And it is an insight to realize that it feels different to remember different kinds of things. Try it. Remember the capital of Kansas, then remember the first line of “Hey Jude.” Or remember the image of the Mona Lisa then remember the house where you grew up. They feel differently. Why didn’t we notice that before?

A lot has been written about failure, but Vinod Khosla, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, shone a light on the process when he said “Failure does not matter — success matters. Nobody remembers what you fail at.” It helps to learn from our mistakes and it helps even more if we have short memories so that we can move on. For example, if you’re a golfer, you know that a short memory is de rigeur in golf.

Political funny season always brings up emotional arguments about the proper balance of government activity. Paul Krugman, Nobel economist and New York Times columnist, wryly noticed that sometimes “…our government (can be viewed as) nothing more than a giant insurance company with a military.”

True, those are our biggest expenditures, and his insight may help reframe our understanding in a simple way. Partially because of their immensity, we have found it easier to argue about the lesser, if no less vital, other essential functions (coinage, law, etc.) of government that are vital to our civilization and can be managed by no other entity. Unfortunately for democracies, when a problem is everybody’s problem, it becomes no one’s problem. And so things too often do not get done. Personal responsibility always makes the difference. Hear that Congressmen?

On the personal financial side, an advisor named Saccoro wrote that “Retirement will be the most expensive purchase most people will ever make and many of their decisions will be irrevocable.” Sheesh, no one ever explained it quite that way before. Like a splash of cold water in your face. Insight.

On the medical affairs side, I often wonder why are physicians behind the 8 ball in not leading healthcare reform? A recent editorial in the Stanford Business Journal spoke to this question, “…physicians have undervalued and underinvested in systems, administration, customer service, and financial functions that are necessary.” Clueless, due to our narrow training.

Hospitals don’t escape scrutiny either, “…hospital administrators have been trained and rewarded (only) for their ability to fill beds. They do not have the background and mindset (to manage the larger healthcare system).”

Lastly, casting a further critical eye, the same editorial opined that “…large health plans have the necessary access to capital, depth of professional management, (and) expertise in managing financial risk and information technology infrastructure (to do what is necessary), but resist abandoning their present business model.”

People and institutions inherently resist change, but are at their most creative when under pressure, and the heat is certainly rising on all fronts. Look for more Aha! moments as the medical practice model is warped and twisted even further by outside forces to ineffective obsolescence and we are forced to adapt by reframing our understanding of what works better.

After all, best practices in medicine, or in any field, are a form of insight, but developed with evidence.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice