Gingrich, Beane and Kerry Throw a Strike

October 24th, 2008

What do Newt Gingrich, Billy Beane (GM for the Oakland A’s) and John Kerry have in common? Not surprisingly, very little. Two were born in the 1940s (Gingrich and Kerry), two have led revolutions (Gingrinch: Republican Revolution of 1994 Beane: “Data-Driven Information Revolution” in MLB), and two have been to Fenway Park (Kerry and Beane). Needless to say, these guys won’t be auditioning for the next Three Amigos.

Well, they do share this in common. See, Newt, Beane and Kerry (a.k.a. Newbeakerry) got together, sat down, had some milk and cookies, did some homework and together wrote an op-ed for the New York Times. Okay, so maybe there wasn’t any milk, but I’m sure it was a rip-roaring study-session.

The agenda? The American health care system. No, they don’t pretend to solve every aspect—but, they do tackle two big ones: cost and effectiveness. The authors suggest that if our health care system was run like GM Billy Beane runs his Oakland A’s we’d all be better off.

Beane has been the catalyst for the “data-driven information revolution” overtaking baseball. Boiled down, it means baseball teams should hire, fire and promote players not based on how they look in their uniform (which is the way it was done for close to a century), but statistical performance. The widely acclaimed “Moneyball” approach relies on statistics that go much deeper than batting average and home runs – things like WHIP and VORP. This new approach is working – front offices across MLB are creating teams with lower payrolls and they’re winning more games.

Cheaper and better. The authors suggest the same principle will work for health care. They argue that by statistically looking at results of health care decisions and procedures, our medical system will be more efficient and more effective.

Certainly, it’s an interesting argument. What’s more interesting from a media perspective is that the Times’ editorial page – obviously a powerful voice – was able to bring together three powerful, disparate people on common ground to present an innovative concept.

Maybe there’s hope for the media after all….

Posted Under: Media & Journalism
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