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Readers Write: Projects and Costs Out of Control? Take a Low-Dose Aspirin

September 26, 2018 Readers Write 3 Comments

Readers Write: Projects and Costs Out of Control? Take a Low-Dose Aspirin
By Frank Poggio


Frank Poggio is president and CEO of The Kelzon Group.

A recent announcement in the news about the lack of effectiveness and risk of taking daily low-dose aspirin triggered my re-thinking about the age old question of, “Why is healthcare IT so far behind commercial industry?” or, “Why is healthcare delivery so costly and inefficient?”

“Experts” always say we can improve costs and quality if we practice evidence-based medicine. OK, I can buy that, but what if the evidence keeps changing every few years? I am willing to bet that in about five years some researcher will say that new data shows daily aspirin is good for you, so hope you didn’t stop taking it. How many times have we seen that with other foods like coffee, red wine, etc.?

And what about classic annual diagnostic procedures like Pap smears, mammography, and PSA tests? Or therapies like angioplasty, tonsillectomy, bloodletting, or frontal lobotomy? The list goes on. All deemed good one day in the past, but not so good or maybe deadly soon after.

This obsession with comparing medicine and healthcare to other industries falls apart if you look at a simple example. Say you are washed up and stranded on a large island. As it turns, out there is an abandoned cabin on the island with a motorized boat left at the dock. You also find a set of mechanic’s tools in a storage area, and lucky you, you happen to possess a little mechanical talent from your high school shop class. What you do not have is any documentation covering the boat or engine, but with your cursory experience with cars, you figure out how to start the engine. But alas, it will run only for a few minutes.

You tinker with it for days, but without any owner’s or repair manuals or other specs, everything you do is hit or miss. Of course you take an evidence-based approach, using trial and error and a little creativity. As you fail to make headway and start experiencing severe hunger pains, you take the engine apart to try to get a better understanding of its engineering and how it should function. Put it back together, try again, no luck, apart again, try again, and on and on.

Wouldn’t it easier if you had some documentation, like maybe a troubleshooting guide? Every boat engine that comes off an assembly line has one. If only the original owner had kept it, you could avoid all the time-wasting reverse engineering. And thank heavens the engine isn’t amorphous or biological, which brings us back to the human condition.

When you were born, didn’t the doctor give your mother your owner’s manual, troubleshooting guide, design specs, and of course a warranty? What, you say, you can’t find them, and the frustration is giving you a severe headache? Too bad, maybe try this aromatherapy — it worked for me.

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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. The aspirin business isn’t new. The Physician’s Health Study showed years ago that prophylactic aspirin from a young age was a break-even in respect to mortality rates, probably because the bleeds offset the cardiac saves. It stands to reason that in people over 70 mortality with “primary prevention” aspirin will worsen because bleeding risk rises and hearts give out no matter what.

    It was always an incorrect extrapolation to assume that because survival of a subgroup with coronary disease improves with aspirin that everybody’s survival does. You’re not pointing out a failure of evidence-based medicine. You’re pointing out a failure of medicine to follow evidence.

    • My point is not to disparage evidenced based medicine, in fact I fully support it over the traditional approach of ‘generally accepted medical practice’ of the past.

      However, EBM is just another tool used to help reverse engineer the human body, and reverse engineering is a time consuming, inexact and expensive process.

  2. Too often the belief it is better to take the risk of doing something is more powerful then allowing ourselves to settle on the acceptable risks of doing nothing.

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