Friday, January 29, 2016

Cooperation vs Competition in Health Care

I've long admired the Cleveland Clinic, so I hope this paragraph from a New York Times article on how drug shortages force rationing decisions, turns out to be incorrect:
The Cleveland Clinic has an advanced compounding room where workers swaddled in disposable gowns, bouffant caps and blue gloves mix up remedies from raw ingredients. During a shortage of papaverine, a drug used for surgery on blood vessels, the clinic produced its own version. When other hospitals began asking about it, Dr. Snyder said he had to tell them, “It’s a franchised recipe we can’t give out.”
 If "franchised recipe" means the Clinic wants to keep its way of producing papaverine secret, it's hard to see how that policy could be ethically justifiable.When a clinician or institution has figured out how to help patients in a better way, the new approach should be shared with others. The overarching goal of the health system is improved health for the entire population. We encourage competition to stimulate local improvements, but once achieved, those improvements must be shared. Competition in health care is justified when it serves population health.

The Cleveland Clinic already has a reputation for clinical excellence. Sharing its "franchised recipe" will enhance the respect the Clinic receives. As such, sharing the recipe would be both good ethics and good strategy. Truly a win/win outcome.

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