Post-Truth Killed a President


The Oxford dictionary’s 2016 word of the year was “post-truth”, defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’”.1

In that light, I would characterize medical care that follows misdirected conventions, unwarranted opinions, or bias driven by commercial benefit as “post-truth” healthcare.

Post-truth decisions can result in unnecessary morbidity and premature deaths. This phenomenon is not new.

In the  mid 1860’s in England, Joseph Lister began saving lives by instituting sterile surgical techniques. The techniques were rapidly adopted across Europe, but in America the advances met significant resistance based on little more than surgical hubris and regional conventions.2

This imperviousness to the evidence meant that after President Garfield was shot in 1881, his wound was explored by numerous physicians with bare hands and unsterilized instruments.

Medical historians have concluded that his death was an iatrogenic (caused by medical care) infection, clearly a “post-truth” fatality. But that was a long time ago. Has the speed of medical adoption of proven treatments improved?

In 2000, an Institute of Medicine report found that it takes an average of 17 years to implement proven clinical research results into mainstream medical practice.3 In 2003, the Institute of Medicine established a comprehensive system’s approach to address this and other ineffective aspects of healthcare.4

Thirteen years later our healthcare is even more expensive and there are clear signs that our population’s health has deteriorated further compared to the rest of the developed world.5

Why has technology (including an estimated total of $3 trillion invested in electronic medical records through 2016) and revolutionary scientific discoveries failed to spark a revolution in our health status? 

We believe the answer is that medicine has become increasingly mired in a product-centric paradigm that isn’t working for either patients’ health or those paying for the bills.

By shifting our employers to a more outcome-oriented paradigm, we can both enhance the health of their beneficiaries and also reduce healthcare costs. 

Breakthrough To Better,

12016 word of the year
21880’s medical care
3Slow rate of adoption for proven medical research
4Shortfalls in the quality of healthcare
5Life expectancy declines


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Edition 1 – Solving a Well-Entrenched Problem
Edition 2 – A Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Edition 3 – Best marketing tagline of all time?
Edition 4 – Post-Truth Killed a President
Edition 5 – What’s an employer to do?
Edition 6 – Profiting From the Opioid Epidemic
Edition 7 – The Keys to Unlocking Better Decisions
Edition 8 – When Difficult Things Need to be Done Well
Edition 9 – Fixing Healthcare
Edition 10 – Beware of a Singing Cow
Edition 11 – Wise Reflections
Edition 12 – Warning: Reader Discretion Advised
Edition 13 – Can AI save healthcare? (Part 1)
Edition 14 – Can AI save healthcare? (Part 2)
Edition 15 – Can AI save healthcare? (Part 3)
Edition 16 – Embracing Reality to Improve Healthcare
Edition 17 – Everything I Needed To Know…
Edition 18 – The Eighth Circle of Hell
Edition 19 – So… What’s Our Solution?
Edition 20 – Protecting Integrity as a Core Strategy
Edition 21 – An Unadorned Legacy
Edition 22 – Time to Grow Up
Edition 23 – Against All Odds
Edition 24 – When Everyone Has Stopped Listening
Edition 25 – Focusing on What’s Important
Edition 26 – Don’t Give Up Your Shot
Edition 27 – Join the Goodhood
Edition 28 – Fixing Healthcare (Recycled)
Edition 29 – Taming the Healthcare Beast
Edition 30 – Leadership
Edition 31 – Better Health Requires Good Sense
Edition 32 – Little Decisions With Big Consequences
Edition 33 – Transformational Courage
Edition 34 – Transformational Courage – Part 2
Guest Post – Happy Thanksgiving! By Jeff Novick, RD
Edition 35 – Transformational Courage – Part 3

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