Boston College Citizen Seminars: May 26, 2004
sponsored by the chief executives' club of boston
Presented by Neal Peirce and Curtis Johnson of the Citistates Group
Study funded by The Boston Foundation and an Anonymous Foundation
Health is among Hub's at-risk industries
Study suggests salvation lies in innovation
The Bay State's biomedical industry, with 280 biotech companies and millions of federal research dollars flowing into the region, appears to be solidly poised for the future.
But there are a variety of threats on the horizon that could topple the region's dominance in the field, a report released yesterday warns.
The high cost of housing threatens the supply of workers for the region. There is political pressure to cut federal funds. And other regions are looking to grab the region's companies.
And at a time when leadership is keenly needed, parochialism and self-interest appear to stand in the way of innovation, according to a report released yesterday at the Boston College Citizens Seminar.
"Boston hospitals and academic centers are famously turf conscious, jealous of others' facilities and star surgeons and research grants," wrote authors Neal Pierce and Curtis Johnson. "What's lost, inevitably, are important quality and cost savings measures."
The health care system needs to be redesigned to improve quality, moderate cost increases and give greater access, the report said. The Greater Boston region could lead the way.
"Why not have Boston brainpower sort out whether market-driven or single-payer approaches would get better results, and whether the nation really needs to tether health care to employment, as we have for the past 50 years," the report said.
Already, some of the work is under way, said Dr. Alan Woodward, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society.
He agreed that health care leaders need to come together more, but said such efforts are happening. For instance, the society has drawn together all the major insurers to work on joint credentials for doctors. That group will soon turn its attention to claims.
"We positively need to come together and we need to work conscientiously on how to take administrative costs and waste out of the system," he said. "If we can make it more affordable, we can make it more equitable."
Other suggestions made in the report include promoting walking to improve health, improving training to increase the supply of health care workers, pushing ahead on electronic medical records and making health care systems change a priority in the state.
Photos: (Top) Keynote speakers Neal Peirce and Curtis Johnson present their Citistates Project. (Middle) Boston College Chancellor J. Donald Monan, S.J. greets event attendees U.S. Congressman Edward Markey and Amos Hostetter of First Harbor.
Article by Jennifer Heldt Powell, Boston Herald, May 27, 2004.