MD Anderson Hawai’i

MD Anderson Hawai’i


Leonard Zwelling

         I guess it was bound to happen. MD Anderson has flown across
the Pacific to land in the Hawaiian Islands at The Queen’s Medical Center:

         How do I know? As John Fogarty said, “because I saw it on

         During a commercial break on CNN, we first saw the now
famous talking, shaking, and smiling heads of the general MD Anderson
commercial followed by one for The Queen’s Medical Center where the same “quality
care” that one receives in Houston can be received right here on the Hawaiian
Islands. MD Anderson faculty, you could be practicing in paradise without any
drop in the quality of care you deliver. Why the heck go to 1515 when you can
hula your way to chemotherapy in the islands of the 50th state?

         Of course, if you happen to live on Maui, you will need a
plane or boat to get to Honolulu, but at least then you won’t have to valet
park and you can wait for two hours staring at palm trees.

         Look, MD Anderson simply is not Starbucks. You cannot set
one up on every corner and maintain the uniqueness of the cancer care that was
once only available in Houston. And I believe that is still the case. I don’t
care what the administrators say or the President pushes, MD Anderson is not
fungible or franchisable and if that offends the sensibilities of the suits at
mid-campus, so be it.

         I love coming to Hawai’i and surely the people who live here
deserve the best cancer care available, but if you are going to tell me that
the skill of an MD Anderson surgeon, the know how of an MD Anderson
radiotherapist, or the intellect of an MD Anderson medical or pediatric
oncologist and all the ancillary services available to them can be replicated
on Hawai’i, you are delusional. 

         I am sure the care for adjuvant chemotherapy of primary
breast cancer is just fine here. But I cannot believe that the care of a child
with a malignant lesion behind his or her retina can be as good here as it is
in Houston.

         When you take to the airwaves and claim equal “quality”,
that is what you are saying and that is just not so. As we have all learned
from watching the strutting President of MD Anderson for almost 5 years, saying
something is true does not make it true, in Houston, in Hawai’I or on the moon.

         If MD Anderson is the number one place for cancer care in
the country and that care can be replicated from New Jersey to Honolulu, why
bother coming to Houston? 1515 has become just another place for care and a
latte. And we all know that just isn’t so.

         The faculty of 1515 is a unique group of cancer care
professionals whose skills cannot be readily duplicated like the latest
hamburger. It is time to stop this nonsense. MD Anderson Hawai’i is a nice
thought. It’s just cannot be a reality.

2 thoughts on “MD Anderson Hawai’i”

  1. This is the new model. It's the brand that draws clients, not individual physicians. So whether you are buying a third rate hospital or the practices of mediocre physicians, simply changing the name of the hospital to NYU Langone or giving a physician a faculty title suddenly makes them world class. Throw in some inane advertising and patients will come. NYU's latest advertising campaign, by the way, is particularly moronic. As part of its effort to get designated a comprehensive cancer center, NYU has come up with their own version of the moonshot: "We can cure cancer. In our lifetime." And yes, the period after "cancer" is deliberate. You have to wonder whose lifetime they have in mind.

    1. The real question is can a broad market, product differentiation strategy work in health care when each state is its own insurance market? I doubt it, but these deals will challenge the wisdom that advises against such an endeavor. We shall see. LZ

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