Two heads are better than one

“Two heads are better than one” is a proverb that underscores the importance of collaboration. In other words, two people (or more) working together have a better chance of solving a problem. This adage is widely used in the United States, although its origin can be traced to an English writer. More recently, following the World Health Organization (WHO)’s report of the analysis of 191 of the world’s health systems, the WHO’s Executive Director for Evidence and Information for Policy, Dr. Julio Frenk, stated, By providing a comparative guide to what works and what doesn’t work, we can help countries learn from each other and thereby improve the performance of their health systems.” 

How might the United States improve the current state of its healthcare system? In the book, The Healing of America, T.R. Reid tours global doctors’ offices, hospitals, and health ministries in order to compare how other wealthy, technologically advanced, and industrialized democracies, much like the U.S., have organized their healthcare systems to be universal, affordable, and effective. These countries with universal healthcare have demonstrated better national statistics: longer life expectancy rates, lower infant mortality rates, better recovery rates from major diseases, and lower spending. The United States performs below other wealthy countries in basic measures of health system performance: coverage, quality, cost, and choice — all of which are the most argued facets in today’s national United States healthcare system debate.

In the first chapter of The Healing of America, author, T.R. Reid cites the United States’ thirty-fourth president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, as the patron of comparative policy analysis. Comparative policy analysis is an approach to problem-solving by studying what others have done. Despite its foreign lineage, the former president used what he had witnessed in Germany’s road-building approach and applied it to build the foundation of what we know now today as interstates and highways in the United States. Since then, the United States has borrowed countless foreign innovations such as public broadcasting, The Office, text messaging, pizza, and sayings like, Two heads are better than one. 

West Monroe’s Healthcare Payer Practice will take a closer look into the healthcare systems of five countries, Germany, Japan, Canada, France, and the UK, as explored in the book The Healing of America.  We will share our thoughts on the strengths of each country’s healthcare system and discuss how to apply their fundamentals to our own healthcare system.  First up will be a closer look at the German healthcare system. Let us know your thoughts, personal experiences, and insights on healthcare in other countries and how we can extrapolate those lessons learned into improvements here at home.


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