Yesterday, Steve Jobs gave his highly anticipated keynote address at Macworld 2006. I watched a delayed version of the event for a number of different reasons: 1) I have some stock in Apple and am trying to determine when/if I should sell; 2) Steve Jobs is touted as being one of the best public speakers in the world, and so I am interested in learning about his technique and style; and 3) I have some interest in learning about Apple products (apart from the investor motivation). Regardless, what struck me as very curious was the degree to which the audience (and I suppose general public) was absolutely enthralled and energized by the event. No doubt that Steve Jobs is a talented public speaker and that Apple is on a roll, but can these two reasons account for the devotion and attention paid to a computer/entertainment company? A few other examples include the devotion to movies (e.g., Star Wars, Harry Potter), technologies (e.g., Linux, Open Source), and other entertainment (e.g., sports, music). I hope you get the point.
Over the past year or so, I have started to wonder why health care (and as an extension, ehealth) fails to garner as much attention as these other areas. Here in Canada, we publicly say that we value health care and that health care is important to us as a society. And yet, we seeminly do not approach health care with as much zeal, passion, or excitement as with the entertainment/leisure/technology examples. I concede that we do spend a significant portion of our financial resources on health care (just under 10% of GDP in Canada). This fact alone suggests that we do value, in monetary terms, health care.
But, where’s the excitement? Much of the talk surrounding money and health care centers around controlling costs. If society put as much energy into developing new drugs, new technologies, or even new ideas into health care as we do to entertaining ourselves, would anything be different? Perhaps. Maybe there would a greater proliferation of options avialable to health care provides and patients regarding the use of ehealth. Maybe costs would decrease because of greater competition, reliability, and use. I really don’t know. All I do know is that there is not as much zeal surrounding health practitioners using new technologies as an announcement about a new iPod or Apple computer.
I wonder if we really value health care. If we do, should we not be focusing more of our energy and attention in making it work? I wonder…