25/11/2003 - 21:00

Healthcare’s role as business in question

25/11/2003 - 21:00

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Healthcare’s role as business in question

WA Business News’ health forum elicited a wide range of views on whether healthcare should be considered a business.

InfraPsych executive chairman Dennis Tannenbaum holds strongly to the view that healthcare needs to be viewed as a business.

“We can’t talk about the fact that health is not a business,” he said.

“Health has a profound impact on every business so we have to consider it as a business.”

This view was challenged by AMA State president Brent Donovan.

“Personally I fundamentally disagree with that,” Dr Donovan said.

“If medicine was a business, anybody over 75 who is going to be your highest cost and your least contribution, you just wouldn’t treat them.

“And of course, I’m not suggesting that, and in our society we don’t accept that.

“So I don’t believe it is a business.”

Curtin University academic Charles Watson sought to find a middle ground between these views.

“Brent said medicine isn’t a business and that is true, but there are lots of businesses in the health system, lots of sub contractors who are running businesses and that is one of the complexities,” Professor Watson said.

“We have got to take that into account.”

Professor Watson characterised health care as a business to highlight some of the complexities involved in the reform process.

“If this was a business, where the investors are the taxpayers and they are putting all the money into this, they think they are buying health but in fact it’s a very complicated system,” he said.

“And they don’t know what the hell they are buying.

“They actually think they want hospitals.

“There are insider traders, the doctors and the people in the hospital, who manipulate the system to their own advantage.

“All of us try and do that because we know more about what’s going on

“But the community is partially blinded to the system.”

Dr Tannenbaum described healthcare as the most financially complex of any industry, reflecting the variety of funding sources - part Federal government, part State government and part private sector – and the inefficient price signals.

 

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