Progress In Health Care Is Still 'Excruciatingly Slow' Says Harvard Expert

Leah Binder | Forbes | February 20, 2014

I had the opportunity to interview one of the nation’s foremost experts on pay-for-performance and health care quality measurement, Harvard professor Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH. His entertaining and insightful blog “An Ounce of Evidence“ tops my bookmarks.  He’s known in the business community for his forceful candor on the need for much more transparency and better payment systems in health care. He also serves as a volunteer member of my organization’s Blue Ribbon Panel on the Hospital Safety Score.

Health Care Improvement: “Excruciatingly Slow”

Leah Binder: Patent safety has been a big topic of conversation in health policy circles, especially since 2000 when the IOM issued its report To Err Is Human, estimating as many as 100,000 Americans were dying of preventable hospital errors every year. Have we made progress?

Ashish K. Jha: There has been some progress, particularly in two areas. First, there has been a culture shift over the past couple of decades.  Fifteen years ago every error was considered an individual’s fault, and the notion that systems were responsible was completely novel and even strange to many people. Over the past 15 years, we have come to understand that systems fail patients far more often than people fail patients. People make mistakes because we’re human and the job of good health systems is to catch those mistakes and prevent them from hurting patients.