What is the central point of the article "Big Med: Restaurant chains have managed to combine quality control, cost control, and innovation. Can health care?"? What information is surprising?

Expert Answers
gsenviro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The article by Atul Gawande (2012) advocates for improvements in health care system, by delivery of centralized and standardized health care (or treatment). The author drew parallels with food chains, especially the Cheesecake Factory, and presented some case studies (such as those of Dr. John Wright at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the tele-I.C.U. team at Steward's hospitals in Boston). These case studies have resulted in cost savings (for both the patient and the hospitals), better patient experiences and avoidance of negligence.

The most surprising aspect of the article was the introduction of such systems, their ramifications and their acceptability among the practitioners. Yes, we have known about the standardized food recipes (at our favorite restaurant chains, whether it is Pizza Hut or Olive Garden or Red Lobster) for a long time. We have also known about the low-cost and high-volume model that has made Walmart such a success. But the replication of the same in the health care industry, even if it is on a small scale (say, knee-replacement at few hospitals, etc.), is really surprising. And the fact that positive results, in terms of better patient experience and lower costs, are being obtained, just goes to show the changes (some may call it nothing short of a revolution) the health care system needs. Many of us have experienced low quality care in hospitals or with our practitioners, but what has been the remedy? If such a standardized system is available at most of the health care providers, it would save all of us money and hassle. It is understandable that a large number of practitioners will not be very happy with the idea of oversight and change in the way they work (as mentioned in the article); ultimately the heath care industry has to cater to the patients and not the other way around. It is also understandable that exceptions have to be made on a case-by-case scenario, but overall value addition is there and such a standardized scheme needs to be rolled out in other parts of the country as well.