The Power of Ideas: Atul Gawande on How Do We Heal Medicine?

Uma Hiremath
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By Uma Hiremath
INE Ted Columnist

In this week’s news, Anne Bakjian of Georgia reportedly spent two weeks in hospital battling COVID-19. She recovered, but has yet to recover from the $48,000 invoice that Medicaid did not cover. Physician, heal thyself!

The medical structure is out of kilter. In 19 minutes, well-known Boston surgeon Atul Gawande, brings a singular perspective on “How Do We Heal Medicine?”

To watch Dr. Gawande’s TED Talk, please click here, or on the image below.

The clinicians of today are equipped to deal with an extraordinary breadth of treatments, unknown in pre-penicillin times. 4,000 medical tests and surgeries as well as 6,000 prescription drugs have replaced the ubiquitous all-purpose aspirin. Yet, Dr. Gawande argues, there is “little sense that it consistently all comes together in a successful way” for the patient.

A more coherent system is suggested with the analogy of “pit crews” replacing traditional “cowboy” approaches to healthcare. Author of four best-selling books, including The Checklist Manifesto, his study on the importance of medical checklists also figures in this densely argued talk.


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