Mike Leavitt and Economic Dispassion

I have to admit that hanging out with 500 of the best and brightest CIOs in the industry at the CHIME conference this week makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. Everywhere I turned there were great ideas about how the most challenging issues get solved and speakers that turned everything I knew on its ear. Mike Leavitt, former U.S. Secretary of Health, shared his theory of “economic dispassion” at the conference. In a nutshell, he said that pressures will be coming both to our country and our health system that will cause forced innovative restructuring (think of Greece, Argentina, Portugal, etc). What feels like an “optional” political flavor-of-the-month right now will become an economic imperative.

Rick Lang, CIO at Doylestown Hospital in Pennsylvania, explained how the HIE work they have done in the community is causing some negative financial repercussions based on the existing fee for service model. Tests they would have normally performed are being skipped because providers are sharing data and the tests have already been done. On the other hand, he’s looking forward to being a winner in the upcoming world of bundled payments and real health reform.


This experience also reminds me of being a kid. Many times I hoped I would not have to pay the piper. One evening I walked timidly to my parents’ room to tell them that I had gotten a speeding ticket. I fully expected a good tongue lashing. That didn’t happen. Instead, my parents treated it as a significant learning opportunity. Translation: “Adam, you will get to pay for the ticket.” That was much worse at that point in my life than a quick 10 minute diatribe would have been on the value of driving more slowly. Taking back my brand new football cleats to pay for the ticket was my parents’ version of “economic dispassion.” Let’s learn these lessons quickly before we get to taste what the modern-day Greeks are facing. 

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