“A second way we can improve our healthcare system is to reduce the amount of red tape and administrative barriers in order to increase access to care and lower costs. Our payer options are too complex and administrative costs are passed on to patients in the form of health insurance premiums.” Dr. Michael Apkon, President and CEO of Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children in Boston, Massachusetts (Thrive Global, April 17, 2019)

In a recent Thrive Global article, Limor Weinstein, MA., MHC., FAED, Psychotherapist, interviews Dr. Michael Apkon, CEO of Tufts Medical Center. The article starts out with some chit chat but then focused on Dr. Apkon’s perspective on the shortcomings of the current US healthcare system.

“I think one of the key differences in the US compared to Canada or most European countries is that the only part of the healthcare system that all people in the US have a right to access is the Emergency Department, whereas in the other countries, all people have a right to basic preventive and primary care. We take care of people only when they get sick enough to be at the hospital, while other countries are focused on keeping people out of the hospital.

We also tolerate a lot more disparity in the access to healthcare than other countries. People here have access based on ability to pay or their level of insurance. This leads to different patterns of healthcare use, different waiting times, and different choices by people deciding whether they can afford their treatments.” Dr. Michael Apkon, President and CEO of Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children in Boston, Massachusetts (Thrive Global, April 17, 2019)

Then the conversation moves to what Dr. Apkon would change about the current system. Some of the suggestions and insights from Dr. Apkon include:

  • Making primary care and basic services — including hospital services — available to all. In other words, give all people access to more than just the ED.
  • Reduce red tape, bureaucracy, and administrative barriers that currently drive up costs and limit access to care.
  • Use information more effectively. Specifically, don’t just store data, analyze it so it can inform improvements in care delivery and systems.
  • (I love this one) Create strategic partnerships and alliances to improve the health of our communities – addressing systemic issues like food insecurity, poverty, and safe housing. Dr. Apkon is a healthcare leader who understands that hospitals have to partner with organizations in the community (public health organizations, churches, non-profits) to address the social determinants of health and make real improvements in population health.

“Communities have a role in highlighting disparities and surfacing the unique needs of the community. They also have a key role in connecting the healthcare and social-care systems. There are some really interesting partnerships that leverage community services — like transportation, police, fire, ambulance, and social services — to partner in new ways to help people thrive at home, instead of within the hospital-based healthcare system.” Dr. Michael Apkon, President and CEO of Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children in Boston, Massachusetts (Thrive Global, April 17, 2019)

If you work in health or healthcare, you ought to read this article. It gives me a sense of hope. It makes me want to give Dr. Apkon a pair of #pinksocks! He has earned it. I hope my friends at Tufts Medical Center can help make that happen.

1 comment on “The CEO’s Perspective on Improving our Healthcare System

  1. Fascinating. Dr. Apkon can’t name it, but he’s describing single payer healthcare.

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