The old journalism joke goes that the definition of “news” is what the editor experienced that day, or week, or month. When the guy at the top gets hit with, say, a really high tab to fill his car’s gas tank or becomes subject to the alternative minimum tax, that’s when the topic rises in “newsworthiness.” In the real world, it’s not quite that simple, though as with most stereotypes, the joke contains more than a grain of truth.
It was thus interesting to hear Ellyn McColgan, the gal at the top of Fidelity Brokerage Corp., vent her frustration with our healthcare system in an aside at Fidelity’s Executive Forum in April. McColgan’s experience with a big-name doctor at a big-time hospital when she was presented with a relatively minor ailment that included relatively major pain was much less rewarding, shall we say, than her interaction with a massage therapist in a hotel spa who provided great bedside manner and immediate pain relief at a fraction of the cost of Mr. Hippocrates. Recall that money was not an issue here, nor was having access to the best healthcare providers, nor could you question the sophistication of the patient. I have similar stories, and so do you. There may not be simple solutions to our national healthcare mess, but we must make some hard choices now.