# A Perfect Metaphor

Few things are perfect, and when you find something that is, it is worth examining.  One thing that is perfect is baseball, at least some aspects of it.

Think with me for a minute. 1845.  How much has changed since then?  Just about everything.  Do you know what has not changed—the distance between the bases—90 feet?  This distance may seem insignificant or inconsequential.

In the last 165 years the distance between the bases remained unchanged.  Equipment changed, improved.  The players got bigger, faster, and stronger.  It never dropped to eighty-nine feet; it never jumped to ninety-one feet.

To those who follow baseball, have you noticed how close many of the plays are at first base, or the closeness of the steals of second base?  Can you imagine what would happen to the game of baseball if the distance was shortened to eighty-nine feet?  Almost everyone stealing second base would be safe.  If the distance was ninety-one feet they would all be out.

Somehow, 165 years ago those people got it right, got it absolutely right.  Something as simple as a measurement along a dirt path has stood the test of time.  There are not even any discussions about trying to improve it.

Remember the Titanic?  If one measured all the time spent in its design, and all of the time it sailed before it sank, if you were a betting person you would have bet on the boat.  Reasonable people would have bet on the boat.  You would have been a fool to have bet it would have sunk.

You know what; the Titanic’s sinking was not a fluke. The laws of physics and ship design did not suddenly cease to work.  Do not blame the iceberg.  The Titanic was designed to sink—otherwise it would not have sunk.

What is often misjudged in business is the ill-informed notion that just because something has not collapsed it is not broken.  Hospitals are starting to collapse.  The business model of most of them almost ensures that left unchanged, many, many more will collapse.  They have been designed to collapse.  Just because they have yet to collapse does not mean they won’t, all it means is that they have not—yet.

Few things are perfect.  What discussions there are about the business model are not about improving the model, they are about cutting costs.  What do you have when there are no more costs to cut?  You have a less costly dysfunctional model.

Paul M. Roemer
Chief Imaginist, Healthcare IT Strategy

1475 Luna Drive, Downingtown, PA 19335
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paulroemer@healthcareitstrategy.com

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