One of the fun things about attending the World Economic Forum in Davos is that you’ll just be sitting there in the Congress Center playing with your smartphone and some world-renowned expert in something will walk over and greet the guy next to you and then say something interesting.
For example, I was sitting in the Congress Center just now eating nuts and drinking tea, and one of the world’s leading healthcare and health policy experts walked over and gave a big hug to one of the guy next to me, who was a famous journalist.
The famous journalist felt bad that I didn’t already know the world’s-leading-healthcare expert, so he introduced me to him. And then the journalist and the healthcare expert got to talking about why each was here.
The healthcare expert announced that he was here to participate in a session whose goal was to determine whether all the new healthcare innovation that we’re all hearing about is going to make us healthier and be cheaper than all the healthcare we already have — or whether it’s all just a bunch of hot air.
That sounded like an interesting question.
So I asked the healthcare expert what the answer was.
“Hot air,” he said. “Nothing makes healthcare cheaper.”
The healthcare expert observed that I considered this answer profound, so he qualified it.
“Actually,” he added, “Vaccines have made healthcare cheaper. That’s the one innovation that has made healthcare cheaper. Nothing else makes it cheaper. More cost-effective, yes. But not cheaper.”
So, there you have it. I have been at this year’s Davos for all of a few hours, and I now know that most of what I have been hearing about the future of healthcare in recent years is hot air.
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