Saturday, June 05, 2010

Parkinson's Law applied to medical care

The front entrance of Hartford Hospital in Har...Image via Wikipedia

Parkinson's Law is now a classic, which states - "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." I think it applies very well to medical care as well. Here it would be - " Patient supply expands to fill the hospital beds which are available".

A lot of government officials in India naively believe that the reason the medical care provided to Indians is so poor is because there are not enough hospital beds to provide them with medical care. Their solution is - build more hospitals and train more doctors, and the problem will be solved.

Actually, it will not ! More doctors and more hospital beds will just end up creating more demand for medical care and more patients - not better health !

Remember that doctors provide illness care - not health care; and that more more care is not always better for many illnesses ! Sometimes, less is more - and it would be far smarter for India to focus on teaching people to take better care of themselves, rather than spend money on 5-star hospitals.

Sadly, this will never happen. There is too much money to be made in opening new medical colleges ; training new doctors; building large new hospitals ; and "treating" patients. Healthcare business is huge - and consumes about 12% of the GDP in the USA. There's a lot of scope for it to grow in India - and it seems we are doomed to end up replicating all the mistakes the Americans have made !

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