Doctors are the only people who can drive the change in healthcare delivery that’s needed to save the country from a financial crisis, a health policy expert said here.
Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, chair of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, called physicians the most important group in determining the future of the U.S., because others who have tried to incite health delivery reform have run into a brick wall when doctors weren’t on board.
“I can sit up here and talk all about it. Other experts can talk about it. Only you can put it into practice,” Emanuel said at the opening ceremony here at the annual meeting of the American College of Physicians. “You don’t do, it ain’t gonna happen. It’s that simple.”
Emanuel drew a gasp from the crowd when he noted the U.S.’s healthcare spending last year — $2.87 trillion — makes it equivalent to the fifth largest economy in the world. “We spend more on healthcare in this country than the 66 million French spend on everything in their society,” he said.
The federal government’s share of health spending through programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans Affairs equates to the 16th largest economy in the world — bigger than Turkey, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
The only way to reduce that spending is to move away from a fee-for-service model that rewards volume over value and quantity over quality, Emanuel said, noting that the fee-for-service system has driven the spending growth that we have today.