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KTG Webinar Recap: Health Care Management with Reuben McDaniel

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, Professor Reuben McDaniel, Department of Information, Risk, and Operations Management, conducted a Knowledge To Go (KTG) webinar on the topic of health care management. Reuben McDaniel's research and teaching interests include health care management, strategic management, organization theory, and policy analysis. In this webinar, Reuben McDaniel raised the question of how we can better manage and improve upon the quality and efficiency of an industry that everyone needs, but no one wants, that industry being health care.

McDaniel said we must first look at how health care is currently managed:

  1. Costs too much – the major cause of bankruptcy
  2. It is not of consistently high quality – error rates are atrocious
  3. Many people do not have good access – there are wide disparities across our society 

Next, McDaniel discussed things that must be focused on in order to better manage the health care system:

  • Patient control over outcomes - Recognition that the patient is a part of the system that will enable that person to have better health care.
  • Difficulty of cost-benefits analysis - It is impossible to fully calculate due to the highly variable across patients and providers.
  • Highly variable time horizons - the trajectory of illnesses changes across patients and kinds of illnesses.
  • Variable and indeterminate technologies - Factors in the environment that our out of our control combined with the various effects treatment can have on patients can create reciprocal interdependencies across patients.
  • Direct participation of high knowledge workers in service delivery - Variable mental modes across the health care professionals, which leads us to need more complex teaming.

Lastly, McDaniel listed specific suggestions for improving the health care system:

  • Pay physician salaries – In order to prevent run-away medical spending, we need to fundamentally change how physicians are paid; we need to recognize that a high paid physician is not synonymous with a good physician.
  • Make medical school free – Currently we ask people to take on the debt to obtain a medical education to take care of everyone; McDaniel believes that it should be made free, though this will take a period of transition.
  • Rethink electronic health records – Information systems are helpful, but currently they are designed to be useful only for the provider and the physician, not the nurse or the patient. Overall, we need to better evaluate how helpful these information systems are at solving problems before we invest fully in them.
  • Recognize limits of medical practice – There is fundamentally uncertainty in the health care system since physicians, nurses, and pharmacists are all dealing in a combination of art and science; only when these things come together in a meaningful way are we most likely to get the best care. 
  • Focus on relationships among caregivers – It is easy to think as a patient that you need the best surgeon, but rather what you need is the best surgical team which comes back to the relationships between each other and you as the patient.
  • Involve patients in the work of healing – Need to involve patients in the process of healing in order for them to better understand how to manage their health now and in the future.

To listen to the complete webinar, including the Q&A with Reuben McDaniel, visit the Lifelong Learning page under the "Listen Now!" tab.

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