Category: Harvard affiliates

Don Berwick, MD: Waste in the American Healthcare System

Dr. Berwick, former Director of CMS and former President and CEO of IHI, discusses the percentage of waste in the American Healthcare System. He also mentions the new proposals by nine specialties recommending that 45 procedures and tests be performed less often as they are almost always unnecessary.

Don Berwick, MD: Changing from fee-for-service to bundled payments in Medicare and Medicaid

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation panel

March 8, 2013  By Steven E. Greer, MD

We interviewed three of the oncologists and industry executives who spoke at the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation in Cambridge, Massachusetts in March. They were:

  • Richard B. Gaynor, MD, Chair, Accelerating Cancer Cures; Vice President, Cancer Research/Clinical Investigation, Eli Lilly
  • Michael J. Vasconcelles, MD, Senior Vice President, Oncology Clinical Development Millennium; The Takeda Oncology Company
  • Catherine Wu, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

The first topic of discussion was Read more »

Will healthcare spending really continue at its current pace?

Interviewed by Steven Greer, MD

The consensus among government budget forecasters such as the CBO is that the current growth rate of healthcare spending will continue and result in healthcare becoming 30% of the GDP. It is not well appreciated that the CBO is often very inaccurate because the models their staff use incorporate past or current growth estimates in perpetuity. In contrast, Wall Street financial analysts are paid to make the tough judgment calls that tweak future-year growth estimates based on fundamental analysis.

With the various healthcare reform proposals being “scored” by the CBO now, the issue of whether healthcare will indeed balloon out of control is of vital importance. The HCC interviewed Harvard economics professor David Cutler who takes a contrarian view that healthcare spending will slow and perhaps decrease due to a variety of factors.

Benjamin Sommers, MD PhD: Expansion of Medicaid and impact on mortality rates

Reasons for permanent slowdowns in healthcare spending growth

May 17, 2013- Interviewed by Steven E. Greer, MD

Since 2010, the rate of growth in healthcare spending has been the lowest in decades, even slower than the HMO era of the 1990’s. This had been attributed simply to the recession, but fundamental changes to Medicare and private insurance have taken place, as well as changes to costly new technology (e.g. medical imaging, prescription drugs, etc).

Analyzing all of this, David Cutler, PhD, Harvard economist and White House advisor, recently published a paper in Health Affairs. We interviewed him. In Part 1, he gives a general overview. In Part 2, we discuss in more detail bundling, high-deductible insurance, tiered drug formularies, and other specific changes that have been taking place.

Questionable comments by Atul Gawande after the Boston Marathon bombings

April 20, 2013 By Steven E. Greer, MD

Only two days after the April 15th Boston Marathon terrorist bombings, Harvard surgeon Atul Gawande posted an online essay in The New Yorker about the effective response from fist responders and the treating medical centers. Dr. Gawande is a cancer surgeon and was not part of the trauma responses.

In his New Yorker article, Dr. Gawande wrote, “We have, as one colleague put it to me, replaced our pre-9/11 naïveté with post-9/11 sobriety.” That was a profound statement and something that could become an iconic catchphrase, similar to Matt Taibbi’s famous quote in Rolling Stone referring to Goldman Sachs as, “A great vampire squid”.

On Saturday, April 20th, one day after the surviving bomber was arrested, Dr. Gawande was a guest on the CBS Morning Show discussing the remarkable medical responses from Boston medical centers. Once again, he used the excellent line, “We have replaced our pre-9/11 naïveté with post-9/11 sobriety.”, but this time, he failed to mention that those were not his own words. He left out “as one colleague put it to me”. Read more »

Paul Richardson, MD: Current Therapies for Multiple Myeloma

Interviewed by Steven Greer, MD

Dr. Paul Richardson, Clinical Director of the Multiple Myeloma Center at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute gives an overview of the current standard of care for patients with multiple myeloma


Paul Richardson, MD: Three-drug regimen for multiple myeloma

Dr. Paul Richardson of Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute reviews the recent Lancet article by Cavo, et al, that was the first randomized controlled trial to compare three-drug regimen (bortezomib plus thalidomide plus dexamethasone) to just thalidomide/dexamethasone. The complete response rates and progression free survival were significantly better in the three drug arm.


Don Berwick, MD: The Institute for Healthcare Improvement

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