WNYT.com

Atul Gawande discusses health care

Posted at: 01/16/2013 9:06 PM
Updated at: 01/17/2013 1:28 PM
By: Benita Zahn

There's no doubt health care costs can be unmanageable, but what may surprise you is that more expensive care doesn't always translate into better care.

Noted author, speaker and doctor, Atul Gawande discussed how to improve both tonight in Albany.

When you look around the Capital Region you see hospitals merging and formerly private medical practices coming under the umbrella of hospitals.

While research indicates that doesn't translate into cost savings for consumers, Dr. Atul Gawande, dubbed by TIME magazine of of the world's 100 most influential thinkers, says, times are changing and so may the results of these mergers.

We have to be alert consumers, demanding details about cost for care.  

Gawande says, "I think that transparency will start to drive people to go to the places where the results are better and the costs are lower and it'll put all kinds of pressure on us as doctors and hospitals to do a better job."

In his hour long talk at the Empire State Convention Center, Gawande says the Capital Region is poised to break important ground. A way to improve on health care while holding the line on or reducing costs needs to be found. Gawande says, "Albany is already an interesting place because it is in the top quarter of Medicare quality, according to Medicare measures but in the bottom quarter of Medicare costs per person."

To make this happen across the board, Gawande challenged the audience to rethink how medicine is practiced. He says not as a solo agent, but rather, to think like a pit crew, all working on the same project. To that end he says we need better data on what works.

"We will be watching your community because we're looking for that first place to succeed. And if you do we will be following your community, says Gawande."