13,600 Service Lines

Half a century ago, medicine was neither costly nor effective. Since then, however, science has… enumerated and identified… more than 13,600 diagnoses — 13,600 different ways our bodies can fail. And for each one we’ve discovered beneficial remedies… But those remedies now include more than six thousand drugs and four thousand medical and surgical procedures. Our job in medicine is to make sure that all of this capability is deployed, town by town, in the right way at the right time, without harm or waste of resources, for every person alive. And we’re struggling. There is no industry in the world with 13,600 different service lines to deliver.

Atul Gawande, Stanford School of Medicine 2010 commencement speech

Read the whole thing on The New Yorker [].