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Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., is the fourth president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a position she assumed in January 2003. She originally joined the staff in April[…]

The CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation calls for improved access to healthcare information so patients can decide if operations and therapies are actually needed.

Question: Why is US healthcare expensive?


Risa Lavizzo-Mourey: Healthcare in this country is expensive for a whole host of reasons, but let me just focus on a couple that are really important.

The first is that we have this notion in our country that more care is better care, and yet we know that a lot of the care that’s delivered is unnecessary and sometimes harmful. We’ve all had the experience of going to the doctor and having a sore throat, wanting to get an antibiotics, even though we’ve been told that it’s not a bacterial infection and in fact antibiotics may do more harm than good. Yet we still have this perception that more is going to be better.

No one wants to get an operation that is going to be ineffective and yet they’re not appropriate ways for us to understand, as consumers, whether that operation is necessary or not. And, in fact, we know from lots of studies that that have shown that 50% of the time, the care that we get is not the appropriate level of care.

So more care is not better care, and that forces us as a nation to think about how are going to deliver the right care at the right time and ensure that we have the outcomes associated with that. That is one of the things that I think is going to be absolutely critical to bringing the cost down in healthcare.


Recorded on: June 30, 2009.