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February 9, 2021
David W. Johnson
Blogs Dispatches

What Kind of Doctors Do We Have in the House?

My wife and I have become addicted to long-running network dramas from the early 2000s. First there was “West Wing.” Then there was “The Gilmore Girls.” And now there’s “House.”

For the uninitiated, Dr. Gregory House, is a thrill-seeking, Vicodin-addicted, idiosyncratic, cynical, narcissistic misanthrope who is a master diagnostician. House leads a group of brilliant but socially damaged physicians in diagnosing and treating baffling medical cases.

Like Sherlock Holmes, House is a high functioning sociopath who delights in solving complex puzzles. Everything else, including patients’ thoughts, feelings and preferences, bore him unless they provide diagnostic clues. In that sense, House is not that different from most of the nation’s leading physicians.

Like House, medicine’s brightest minds delight in treating highly unique cases. Their focus on the exceptional diminishes routine patient care. Too often, medicine treats patients like cogs in a machine. This leads to excessive testing, unnecessary procedures, high costs and suboptimal outcomes.

Most medical students and residents aspire to become legendary specialists like Gregory House. Medical training and practice choices reflect this reverence for superstar physicians. In the real world, we need doctors to be high-functioning participants on interdisciplinary and interprofessional teams. We need fewer dispassionate specialists and more empathetic caregivers of all kinds to work with patients to treat their largely routine medical conditions.

House is great TV. When I’m sick or injured, I want team-oriented physicians who engage me in my diagnosis and care.

Read all dispatches from Dave Johnson here

About the Author

David W. Johnson

David Johnson is the CEO of 4sight Health, an advisory company working at the intersection of healthcare strategy, economics, innovation. Johnson is a healthcare thought leader, keynote speaker, and strategic advisor to organizations busting the status-quo to reform our healthcare system. He is the author of Market vs. Medicine: America’s Epic Fight for Better, Affordable Healthcare, and his second book, The Customer Revolution in Healthcare: Delivering Kinder, Smarter, Affordable Care for All (McGraw-Hill 2019). As a speaker, Dave plays the role of rebel, challenger, industry historian, investor and company evaluator to push audiences forward. (Watch bio video.) Johnson applies his 25+ years of investment banking in healthcare to identify ways the healthcare industry must change to deliver better care. He received a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School, an English degree from Colgate University, and served in the African Peace Corp service. Join over 10k+ healthcare executives who read our weekly insights and commentary on www.4sighthealth.com. His third book, Less Healthcare, More Health: The Prescription for a Happier, More Equitable and Productive America, will publish in 2024.

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