Viewpoint: The healthcare industry's 'inauthenticity epidemic'

Healthcare is suffering from an "inauthenticity epidemic" — so it is no surprise that "a lot of good, honest people" are looking to exit the industry, according to Sachin Jain, MD. 

Dr. Jain serves as CEO of SCAN Health Plan and is an adjunct professor at Stanford (Calif.) University School of Medicine. His experience includes leadership roles at CMS and the top position at CareMore and Aspire Health, Anthem's care delivery arm. 

In a May 4 Forbes article, Dr. Jain expounded on a disconnect he has observed in healthcare. He alleges the industry's professionals tend to overstate the impact and potential of their innovations yet underdeliver on results.

For example, when visiting one health system, he learned that an open access scheduling system covered by The Wall Street Journal was implemented in only one of more than 40 clinics, with no plans to expand the project's scale. When visiting another system with a "nationally acclaimed" food program, he was surprised to learn how small the benefiting population was. 

"In a field ostensibly dominated by scientific discovery and rigor, many results fail to meet the basic standards of a sixth-grade science teacher's lecture on the scientific method," Dr. Jain wrote. 

He acknowledges that his initial reaction is to judge the systems "for proclaiming great results — but failing to take the next step to scale that work across the system." However, he wrote that "an epidemic of inauthenticity and superficial execution" exists everywhere, not just in healthcare. 

Inauthenticity can be particularly dangerous in the healthcare industry, Dr. Jain warned, as it creates a false sense of security. Exaggerating progress leads people to believe someone has everything under control — that the situation is getting better when, in many ways, it is getting worse. 

Dr. Jain said this inauthenticity is causing professionals to step away from the profession. 

"Where we were once an industry that boasted a high degree of trust with the public between management and the front lines, cynicism and burnout are now the dominant feeling of far too many people in and around healthcare," he wrote. "A sort of fatigue that was born of the normalized double-speak and dissonance of life inside of most healthcare organizations."

He urged the industry to end its "collective denial" and work to close the gap between what healthcare organizations say and what they actually do. 

Read Dr. Jain's full piece here.

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