In 2007, David Goldhill’s father picked up a hospital-borne infection and then died after a five-week stay.
That death, Goldhill told the 70 attendees at the Hotel at Kirkwood Center Tuesday as part of the 2013 Iowa Health Buyers Alliance statewide conference, was preventable.
Goldhill, CEO of the Game Show Network and author of the book, “Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father — and How We Can Fix It,” added that an estimated 200,000 Americans die each year due to medical error — a figure supported by a 2009 Hearst Media Corp. story.
The reasons for this? The health care system, he said, is designed to be complex, lacks transparency and isn’t competitive.
Further, consumers don’t hold health care responsible and to the same standards as they do other fields because it is considered complex and, at times, beyond questioning, he believes.
“To some extent I think, as consumers, we give it a pass,” he said. “Unfortunately because of the way health care is structured, we have to work harder as consumers in health care than in anything else.”
Goldhill added that many procedures are performed when they are unnecessary. He noted that 1 out of 3 Medicare beneficiaries has surgery within a year of death, and 1 out of 5 90-year-old Medicare beneficiaries have surgery in the year of their death.
Consumers need to be skeptical, he said. Medical professionals, he said, make their money selling consumers treatments.
In addition, consumers should ask themselves: “Is there a less complicated treatment? Is there something simpler? Is there something more lifestyle oriented?” Goldhill said.
“What we haven’t done, because we have the wrong customer in health care, is we haven’t turned the incentive of these providers to match social needs the way it does in other industries,” he said. “They can sell us a lot of treatments without any push back, they’re unaccountable, they don’t compete on price, they don’t compete on quality, they don’t compete on safety, and in other industries we force people to compete on those bases.
“We need to do that in health care.”
During a question-and-answer session, Tim Charles, president and CEO of Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, said Goldhill’s book was one of the most compelling he has read recently. He added that Goldhill’s message is “challenging.”
“Who are you seeing around the country actually addressing what you believe … and who would you recommend that I look to to see those paths?” Charles asked.
Goldhill replied that he found the concept of concierge care “very interesting.”
Concierge care is when patients pay a monthly fee to a specific health care provider or practice.