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The Future of Healthcare: “Let’s cut out the middleman & reconnect the patient with the doctor” With Dr. Deane Waldman, MD MBA

Reconnect the patient with the doctor. Cut out the middleman (insurance or government) who is currently deciding what care patients get and how much providers will be paid. Both of those decisions should be made by patients! Asa part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Deane Waldman, […]

Reconnect the patient with the doctor. Cut out the middleman (insurance or government) who is currently deciding what care patients get and how much providers will be paid. Both of those decisions should be made by patients!


Asa part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Deane Waldman, MD MBA, studied or trained at Yale (BA in History), Chicago Medical School (MD), Mayo Clinic, Northwestern (Children’s Memorial Hospital), Harvard (Boston Children’s Hospital), and Anderson Schools of Management (MBA). He was Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at San Diego Children’s Hospital, University of Chicago, and University of New Mexico.

Author of more than 300 articles and twelve books, “Dr. Deane” is currently Distinguished Senior Fellow in Healthcare Policy at Texas Public Policy Foundation and serves on the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Everyone in my family have been physicians for four generations. I really did not have a choice. (I claim to be the only child raised in Manhattan who ASKED for piano lessons and was turned down. I wanted to be a conductor and my mother expected me to be MD.) Fortunately, I loved being a pediatric cardiologist. As I said repeatedly, “I can’t believe that they PAY me to play with children!”

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

The biggest “payment” I received will happen June 1, 2019. A baby was born in 1984 with a very rare congenital heart defect with only one pumping chamber in her heart. I had to invent the operation that fixed her in 1988. In ≈1993, she qualified for the Junior Olympic swim team — still only one pumping chamber!! This June, I will attend her wedding.

Can you tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the healthcare field?

  • After med school, I trained in pediatrics, cardiology, pathology, and later, decision science obtaining MBA at age 57.
  • 37 years as pediatric cardiologist and Chief of Division at three university hospitals
  • Author of ≈150 articles on pediatric cardiology and >200 articles plus twelve books (four Bestsellers) on healthcare policy, strategy, and management.

What makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I am presently Distinguished Senior Fellow in Healthcare Policy at Texas Public Policy Foundation, one of the most influential policy think tanks in the USA.

Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to and/or see in the healthcare industry? How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo? Which “pain point” is this trying to address?

My contribution/innovation is a new perspective that allowed me to find the CURE for our failing healthcare system. My perspective is the combination of the ethos of medicine (doing whatever is necessary to cure the patient) with the effectiveness of systems analysis (root cause analysis followed by dissolving the root cause).

What are your “4 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Medicine is a business: it is both science and art.
  2. You need business/management training along with medical/surgical training if you want to be a leader, as a Chief of division.
  3. The present system does not help you practice medicine in the best interest of the patient–if you want to do that, you will have to fight bureaucrats, every day.
  4. Waiting for Washington to fix healthcare is waiting for cancer to cure cancer.

Let’s jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this studycited by Newsweek, the US healthcare system is ranked as the worst among high income nations. This seems shocking. Can you share with us 3–5 reasons why you think the US is ranked so poorly?

  • The metrics used were mostly surrogate measures rather than direct ones
  • National longevity statistics are much more related to lifestyle, diet, and genetics than anything nurses or doctors do.
  • Other studies show different results
  • Most important, no one tracks individual positive patient outcomes over time.
  • Therefore, no one can calculate the avoided costs–and thus, net long term savings–of making and keeping patients healthy.

You are a “healthcare insider”. If you had the power to make a change, can you share 5 changes that need to be made to improve the overall US healthcare system? Please share a story or example for each.

First, Get the federal government OUT of healthcare.

For a story(ies): Compare our veterans dying while waiting in line (in a government run healthcare system–the VA) with the hundreds of stories with happy endings among patients who opt out of insurance and use cash-only.

Second, Reconnect the patient with the doctor. Cut out the middleman (insurance or government) who is currently deciding what care patients get and how much providers will be paid. Both of those decisions should be made by patients!

Thank you! It’s great to suggest changes, but what specific steps would need to be taken to implement your ideas? What can individuals, corporations, communities and leaders do to help?

We need a groundswell that says to Washington: Get out of my doctor’s chair. Let me decide my healthcare. See logo below.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better healthcare leader? Can you explain why you like them?

The following were instrumental in helping me understand what is really wrong with healthcare and what to do about it:

  • Book: Ackoff’s Best
  • Book: Built to Last
  • Website and connected literature:

https://thesystemsthinker.com/systems-thinking-what-why-when-where-and-how/

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I try to avoid social media. Connect to me via website:

www.thesystemmd.com

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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