"The Future of Healthcare:" UTMG's Chuck Woeppel on the state of the medical industry

Note: This is the eighth entry in our new weekly blog, "Beyond the Bio," where we ask MBQ Power Players to write a post of their choosing about their industry. Last week, we have the forth entry from our January/February Power Players category, Chief Operations Officers. Chuck Woeppel, COO of UT Medical Group, addresses the future of health care. Mary Sharp, COO of CB Richard Ellis, discussed why business plans are so crucial to have to fall back on in a time of crises. Previously, Lee Rone, COO of Youth Villages,  shared why youth are so important to the family unity and the community. Richard McDuffie, COO of Dunavant Logistics, discussed the impact of technology on businessCheck this space weekly for future installments of "Beyond the Bio."


I was recently listening to a National Public Radio program, and the speaker rattled off the following pieces of information:

  • Empowered, motivated consumers

  • An explosion of information available through the Internet and social media

  • Federal debt: (When I recorded it, the total was $16,311,228,873,273.03.)

  • Each citizen’s share of the federal debt: $51,952.77 as of November 30, 2012

  • An aging population

  • Unsustainable healthcare costs

  • Pressure for cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments

  • A slow economic recovery or another recession

Healthcare costs totaled $2.57 trillion in 2011, or 17 percent of the gross domestic product. Costs are expected to grow to 20 percent of the gross domestic product by 2020. Health insurance premiums have increased 131 percent since 1999, compared with a 38 percent increase in workers’ earnings and an overall inflation rate of 28 percent during the same period.

Healthcare technology is continuing to grow, improving outcomes and adding substantially to the cost of healthcare. People are now talking about getting to the point of curing diseases before they become diseases. Scientists say this technology, called genomics or genetics, is right around the corner. One speaker said that it will be here by 2020.

Think about this. You go somewhere, they put you in a scanner (just like at the airport), and then in a few minutes or a few hours or maybe even a few days, they are able to identify all of the sickness that will ultimately cause your death because of your inherited genetic structure. So you can go and get the defect fixed before it becomes a defect, or maybe as it's becoming a defect, or maybe in its initial stage of being a defect.

Those who can afford it will be broke from fixing their defects before the genome causes the defect. And you get old and die anyway. How do you know the defects were actually defects? Comments invited.


Power Player Bio: Charles "Chuck" Woeppel

Chief Operating Officer, UT Medical Group, private group practice affiliated with the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine faculty. Provides primary and specialty services in Memphis, Germantown and the Mid-South. Former Executive Director at Meharry Medical Group in Nashville. Managed medical groups and hospitals in the Southeast, New York, and California. M.B.A. Xavier University. Member, Medical Group Management Association and American College of Healthcare Administrators.

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