More than $750 billion wasted in US healthcare in 2009

The Institute of Medicine recently reported that the US health system wasted more than $750 billion in 2009. They describe waste due to inefficiency, complexity and resistance to change.

As an example, they describe how it took 13 years for most experts to recommend the use of thrombolytics to treat heart attacks after the therapy had already proven to be effective.

They characterize a continuously leaning healthcare system as having:

  • Transparency
  • Teamwork
  • Continual improvement using tools such as Lean
  • Incentives to achieve positive outcomes
  • Partnership between clinicians and patients

However, they also warn that improvement will be challenging because of the high workload and job stress that many clinicians experience: “Given such real-world impediments, initiatives that focus merely on incremental improvements and add to a clinician’s daily workload are unlikely to succeed.”

Healthcare System Wasted $750 Billion in 2009, IOM Says. Robert Lowes. Medscape Medical News.
Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America. Institute of Medicine. Released September 6, 2012. Summary