American medicine is the finest in the world. Whether it’s judged by

the number of new medicines we discover, or the capabilities of the

latest healthcare technologies we develop, or the varieties of

innovative treatments and techniques we perfect, American medicine is

the best in the world.

However, the development and application of medicines, technology, and

treatments are just two components of our complex healthcare system.

Another equally important component involves ensuring that the

citizens of our country have access to and can afford the best

American medicine has to offer. This is the area in which our

healthcare system is beginning to fail on many levels.

The extent of this system-wide failure is self-evident. Why then are

so few people talking seriously about what is shaping up to be the

greatest domestic political issue of our time? How will we maintain

our accustomed standards of medical excellence if we are not prepared

to seriously address this growing threat that is eroding the

foundation of America’s healthcare delivery system?

As an entrepreneur, I have spent my entire career in healthcare

information publishing, which has allowed me to gain an insider’s

perspective on the groundbreaking medical technologies that are having

such a profound impact on so many patients’ lives. It has been an

amazing experience to observe newly discovered drugs travel the

pipeline from pharmaceutical research labs through the FDA and into

our physicians’ offices, where they are used to improve and even save

the lives of countless patients. Medical science has provided us

untold benefits, and also offers the promise of even greater

breakthroughs to come.

But a great and looming crisis threatens it all:

Retiring baby boomers’ demand for healthcare, on top of exploding cost

increases, will weaken the delivery system and exacerbate healthcare

worker shortages

Indigent care, reimbursement issues, and operational costs are putting

unbearable pressure on many hospital systems

The lack of effective federal Medical Liability Reform continues to

undermine the viability of the medical practitioner and threatens the

growth of desperately needed healthcare jobs

Government increasingly sets prices for healthcare products and

services through massive entitlement spending that is eliminating the

competitive, free market from healthcare

These and other ominous developments pose a grave threat to American

medicine and the economy of our nation; consider that by the year

2014, a short eight years from now, nearly 19 percent of GDP – a

staggering $3.6 trillion dollars – will be consumed by healthcare

expenditures. It is critical that we address these systemic problems

at their roots; short-term fixes, like patches in a New Orleans levee,

ultimately only delay the day of reckoning and pass the problem on to

future generations.

As time is of the essence, I encourage you to share with me your

greatest concerns regarding the challenges facing our healthcare

delivery system by E-mailing me at mikehennessy@mdng.com. Together, we

can begin a dialogue, and through our efforts discover and nurture new

ideas for change, enabling many voices to speak as one as we pursue a

solution.

The writer is chairman and CEO of Intellisphere, a medical

publications company based at the Princeton Meadows Office Center.

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