Letter to the business editor: 8/18/12

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Highmark hiring disappoints

It was disheartening to read in the PG that Highmark is building its staff with former UPMC colleagues. I was hoping that Highmark's purchase of WPAHS would herald a new era in the Pittsburgh medical community. Instead we are getting recycled hospital administrators who for any number of reasons earned the disfavor of Jeffrey Romoff and were relegated to the ranks of "health care consultants." It reminds one of a government in exile, ferociously awaiting the funding and opportunity to avenge prior humiliations and exact revenge for untold insults and injuries.

We can look forward to each health system engaging in opportunistic behaviors such as stealing each other's physicians and paying them exorbitant salaries to jump ship. There will be endless ads touting the latest in medical technology without any concern about whether the newest high-tech toy actually improves patient outcomes. We will see more outpatient centers being built next to each other in affluent neighborhoods while underserved areas will remain underserved.

Competition between health systems can be a good thing when it gives rise to innovative ways of delivering health care, but a medical arms race only increases costs. There are a number of forward-thinking health systems in close proximity to Pittsburgh, namely the Cleveland Clinic and the Geisinger Health System, that are implementing progressive ways of delivering health care. Highmark would do well to look beyond its insular world of health care consultants and recruit some administrators who are willing to try something new and different.

F. Scott Fitzgerald got it wrong; there ARE second acts in American lives. The challenge is not to waste these precious opportunities when they present themselves.

Bethel Park



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