Thursday, May 27, 2010

An open letter to Senator Scott Brown

Dear Scott,

I understand the Senate confirmation process in Washington, DC, and how the appointment of individuals gets hung up for a variety of political reasons. I don't particularly like it, but I understand it.

But I don't understand how with regard to the appointment of Don Berwick as head of CMS, the Medicare agency, this can be the case, as reported recently in the Boston Globe:

Senator Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, has not decided how he will vote, a spokesman said.

That Don Berwick is an internationally renowned expert in health care delivery is not in doubt. That he is an honest, hard-working, and thoughtful person is also clear to the thousands of people in the health care professions with whom he has worked. That his primary focus has always been on reducing harm and medical errors is likewise the case. He is also interested in reducing costs in the health care delivery system when such costs represent waste and inefficiency.

Scott, the issue here is not whether the recently passed health care bill was right or wrong for the country. I respect your opinion on that matter. But that vote has been taken.

The issue here is whether you want someone who knows enough about the delivery of health care, whose passion is making that safer for patients, to be in charge of the agency that potentially has the largest single impact on that goal.

As a State Senator, you were always incredibly supportive of us at BID~Needham Hospital in our desire to offer safe and efficient health care to your constituents. Please know that Don Berwick and the people working with him at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement taught us how to do that.

Please don't stand by as his appointment is delayed. Please talk to your colleagues and help Dr. Berwick be confirmed as head of CMS.

With warm personal regards,



Anonymous said...

Big stretch for Berwick from his low level work and idea stuff to managing something as large and demanding as CMS.

e-Patient Dave said...

I agree.

Senator Brown, I began studying the healthcare industry in 2008 after surviving a lethal cancer. My background isn't healthcare - it's high tech. I have no long-term position in any particular approach to healthcare - all I know is that the vast majority of healthcare delivery systems are decades behind the rest of industry in innovation.

Last fall as my awareness expanded, I found the first voice I'd heard that made good solid sense, advocating the adoption of industry standard quality improvement methodologies in healthcare. He was an audience member in a session I attended somewhere in Boston, and I later learned it was this guy Don Berwick.

I'd be happy talk with you, your staff, and anyone else in DC about the specifics of Berwick's approach as seen through the eyes of a patient who has no stake in anything except getting the job done when everything is at stake.

"e-Patient Dave" deBronkart
Co-chair, Society for Participatory Medicine

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