President Obama likes to shake things up. He has named Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Medicare and Medicaid Agency known as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This is a huge government agency with a budget of over $800 BILLION a year. That is more than most countries in the world. Dr. Berwick would be a major force in implementing the new health laws and changing Medicare to be more efficient and cost effective.
The average person probably doesn't know who Don Berwick is, but he is a big name in the Health Care industry. A pediatrician by training, he is the president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and is a national leader on quality and patient safety. By telling stories that people can relate to, he is a transformational leader for reducing hospital errors and reducing variability in care.
Here is a quote from Dr. Berwick at the 2004 IHI meeting;
"I'm losing my patience, not with the people in healthcare, but with the system itself. Healthcare professionals are doing so many things so well; they're putting actual transformation within reach. Now we need to grab it. The clock is a tyrant and if you spend too much time 'getting ready' you're going to lose."
He started the 100,000 lives campaign which aimed to save 100,000 lives by June 14, 2006..and it did.
Dr. Berwick is an inspired choice to run CMS. I worry that he will last only a short time with such a bureaucracy, but if he can bring some of his ideas to the forefront and to congress, this will be a big win for medicine and for all Americans.
For more of Dr. Berwicks views, read here.