National Public Radio’s On Point program with host Tom Ashbrook comes out of WBUR in Boston. The December 6, 2011 program featured Dr. Donald Berwick sharing his thoughts, ideas, and vast knowledge about improving health care — and Dr. Berwick was only a few days past taking leave as head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). On the talk show Berwick was articulate, thoughtful, and easy to understand. Moreover, he was unruffled by people who called in to disagree.
Just about everyone who cares about health care quality, solid medicare services for aging parents, and appropriate access to health care for people with lower incomes knows the shameful congressional saga of Dr. Berwick’s rejection.
However, by the end of OnPoint I decided that Dr. Berwick, now that he’s had seventeen months to head CMS, may be a highly visible advocate outside of the government. In fact, the people in the Senate who submitted statement after statement railing about Berwick, quoting his writing out of context, and in general being hateful, may soon wish he were still in the government, quietly going about his daily business with all of the communication constraints of a senior level government official..
They may have unwittingly created a health care rock star.
Now Dr. Berwick was already a star in the health care world, but he is increasingly well-known and influential outside of it, largely due to the brouhaha surrounding his nomination. With his wonderful communications skills and his energy — when people who don’t share his views listen to him, they are often struck by his knowledge and compassion — I expect we’ll have lots of opportunities to hear him speak and watch him lead. Read an article about Dr. Berwick’s first public speech after leaving office
He won’t need to worry one bit about what those senators think.
Watch a video about Dr. Berwick’s work before he started working at CMS.