What if Trader Joe’s Ran Hospitals?

In 2018, Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner posed the question: “Should America be run by Trader Joe’s?”  He suggested “the quirky little grocery chain with California roots and German ownership has a lot to teach all of us about choice architecture, efficiency, frugality, collaboration, and team spirit.”

Mention efficiency in the context of a health system and one’s mind immediately jumps to cost savings. For years, people have espoused the benefits of scale to lower supply costs, bolster liquidity, improve access to capital, raise credit ratings and the like.  While all true, those miss the point.  Hospitals rarely enter partnerships based on raw efficiency and the ability to cut costs.  Instead, the priorities are most often improving the consumer experience, serving more of the community, positioning the organization as a community cornerstone and prioritizing quality– the same values for which Trader Joe’s is known.

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