Guest post by Lynn McVey, CEO and president of Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, New Jersey
"Congress is an evidence-free zone," Hillary Clinton joked at the recent Press Ganey conference. "We need more data and less suffering," she added on a serious note. I had arrived an hour early to get on line to listen to her speak. The next day, I did the same for Atul Gawande, M.D. Regarding healthcare reform, these two were on my own personal Mount Rushmore.
My life passion is disrupting healthcare using evidence-based practices to uncover expensive operational variations. I have been totally disgusted by some of the variations I've discovered over the years. The most repulsive waste was the hospital who had built three (three!) medical imaging departments. They built capacity for 900,000 exams a year. They were performing 100,000. It was no surprise the CEO's background was construction.
You can imagine my thrill to hear Hillary tell an audience of 2,500 healthcare leaders that "without good data, decisions are made based on emotion and experience." She was saying what I've been screaming for years!
Although Lord Kelvin, a physicist from Belfast, Northern Ireland, died in 1917, he said "without a numerical understanding, we have no understanding." So here we are, 100 years later.
Finally ... data, metrics and evidence are being introduced to healthcare for the first time. Data is the heart of change, improvement and reform. Hillary optimistically anticipated a future where the healthcare system would be "data driven, evidence based and compassion driven," which filled me with hope.