What MD Anderson Can Learn From This Presidential Election And From Its Own Financial Performance


Leonard Zwelling

         There are really only two major lessons.

         One, if you spend more than you take in, you go into deficit.

         Two, if you are nasty to people, they will not like, respect, or follow you.

         Mr. Trump does not seem to understand either of these two axioms of normal human endeavors.

         Mr. Trump believes in trickle down economics, a concept that has been debunked more than often enough. Cutting taxes on the wealthy will not create jobs. It will create larger stock portfolios for the wealthy. He is right about the tax laws that keep much of the income of American companies offshore, but he’s not going to be able to build the great country or The Wall without some income. And since he’s so fond of debt, he may well wind up having to borrow an awful lot of money from his friends in China or Russia to pay his bills. And he won’t have bankruptcy laws by which he can reduce his national debt to pennies on the dollar as he did in Atlantic City.

         Donald Trump is also rude, He insults everyone all the time, even at what should have been a conciliatory moment at the Al Smith dinner in New York Thursday night, he simply could not bring himself to behave.

         Sound familiar MD Anderson? It should.

         I have recently seen the financial reports that show revenues at Anderson lagging behind income. What a surprise! Not!

         The factors are many. EPIC surely is the big one as EMRs slow down care whenever they are installed and they aren’t being installed to make care easier or better. They are installed to maximize revenue through increasing the billable acuity of each visit and making sure bills dropped on the government and insurers are as large as a possible. I wonder if anyone calculated the cost of the EPIC installation vs. the benefits or whether or not keeping the old Clinic Station system would have been just as profitable as EPIC was purported to be?

         But that’s not the real problem at Anderson, I suspect, although EPIC is a significant driver of the deficit reported to exceed $250 M. My guess is that an equal driver is expenses.

         Dr. DePinho himself in his recent article on drug development in The ASCO Post admits to spending $800 M on drug development and surely this expense has not generated a meaningful revenue stream yet. That’s not going to help the deficit.

         I have also seen first hand the manner in which Dr. DePinho deals with other humans. It ain’t pretty. It should come as no surprise that the friendly confines of 1515 Holcombe have turned into the mean streets of Houston.

         So the leadership of MD Anderson is following the downward spiral that has also characterized Mr. Trump’s attempt to win the White House. It won’t work in DC and it won’t work in Houston. The sooner Mr. Trump and Dr. DePinho learn these basic truths, the better off for all of us.

Leonard Zwelling