Where are we compared to the rest of the world?

Today (October 27, 2009), I was reading a section of the Wall Street Journal titled “Innovations in Delivering Health Care." The concepts were fascinating, some of them sounded very familiar to me. The Veteran’s Administration’s system-wide electronic medical record was a few steps beyond, but somewhat similar to the Department of Defense’s Composite Healthcare System I worked on as a hospital commander in the late 1980s and as a medical center commander in the early 1990s. I read a blog and an online article suggesting that the VA and DOD systems may merge soon and I’m all for that.

Then I turned the page and saw a section called “Annual Checkup.” U.S. performance on nineteen measures of health care was compared to that of the other members (29 of them) of the OECD, the Organization for Economic development and Cooperation, in other words, the group of industrialized nations that have joined this Paris-based entity since its inception in 1961.

The U.S. was at the top in health spending per capita ($7,290 vs. a mean of $2,964), but our life expectancy at birth was less than the mean (78.1 years vs. 79.0) and well under Japan’s 82.6 years. The key, I think lay not in our tobacco consumption (15.4% of our population are daily smokers vs. an OECD mean of 23.3%). We’ve done fairly well in that arena.

The real issue is obesity. Here we clearly led the pack with an amazing 34.3% of our population being obese, vs. an OECD average of 15.1% and, tellingly, a Japanese figure of 3.4%. Here’s where the lifespan shows up, I thought immediately. Fat equals fatality came to mind.

2 Responses to “Where are we compared to the rest of the world?”

  1. Dougles says:

    Absolutely with you it agree. It seems to me it is excellent idea. I agree with you.

  2. Peter Springberg says:

    Thanks, Douglas,

    I appreciate your comment.


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