Real-Life Hoaxes Offer Lessons for Reform

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , January 18, 2013

What hoaxes such as the Te'o con and the nonexistent U.S. Virgin Islands Hospital can teach us is that we should nurture a healthy skepticism in making such big decisions. It also teaches of the vulnerability in all of us to believe what we want to believe. We want to believe a merger will cut costs and ensure our continued existence in a time of massive uncertainty, so maybe we're too quick to discount the potential negatives.

The bottom line is that skepticism is healthy, but education is paramount. Let's not turn the current trend of both vertical and horizontal integration into the next healthcare industry panacea. If any industry should have a hangover from believing in multiple panaceas over the years, it's healthcare. And I include myself in that caution.

The only defense you have against your own credulity is through educating yourself and avoiding the mistakes that others have made before you. I find that hearing lots of different perspectives helps me in discerning what's hype and what's not, and HealthLeaders Media can help with that. We offer tons of research reports drawn from surveys of bona fide healthcare executives.

We have condensed face-to-face conversations with healthcare executive thought leaders through our Roundtable series. Decisions these people make will ultimately decide whether our nation can handle its healthcare needs without bankrupting us all.

Finally, HealthLeaders magazine, with its emphasis on peer commentary, ties it all together. Best of all, most of it is free. I can assure you that we exist, and so do the people we solicit for advice on best practices.

Not that anyone is specifically out to con you as you make your way through an entirely new regulatory framework, massive spending on technology, and a vast reshuffling of the healthcare infrastructure, but let's at least admit that you could easily fool yourself, and that making ill-considered and short-sighted decisions will be judged harshly by the marketplace.

Shouldn't those decisions be as informed as possible?

Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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