By: John Lavey | Hammock President/COO

Baseball is back. This week, Major League Baseball announced a shortened 60-game season. Players report for training next week.

So what, if anything, does baseball have to do with healthcare?

While it is the national pastime, it’s also just a personal interest. Every year, I take a trip with a group of friends to a different Major League Baseball park. This year, we were scheduled to go to Detroit—a trip we canceled.

But better minds than mine would suggest the parallels between baseball and healthcare are eerie. In 2018, Robert Pearl, M.D., the influential former CEO of Permanente Medical Group, wrote a great article on how baseball and healthcare both need fixing. Here’s why:

  1. They both strike out too much. Why? In part, because teams were focusing on home runs, which raises the level of strikeouts. Similarly, Pearl says, healthcare is enamored with miracle drugs and dramatic surgical techniques, and less focused on singles and doubles or keeping people healthy.
  2. They rely too much on relievers. Baseball teams use up to a half-dozen relief pitchers in a game, when the game traditionally used to have two per game. Relievers have become very specialized. In healthcare, also, the ball is taken out of the hands of the primary care physician, and specialists are entrusted with the result.
  3. They ignore the health of their players. In baseball, specialized pitchers throw as hard as they can for a fewer number of innings, and injuries are up as a result. In healthcare, clinicians get burned out more easily, as the strain of their role demands far more administrative work and increased productivity.

As we head into the baseball season, there is work to be done on both fronts. Where do you see the parallels? Play ball!

(Image: Getty Images)

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