By Jeremy Manier
I don’t mean to gush with advance praise for the Pritzker School’s commencement speaker, Dr. Atul Gawande, but he really does seem to be everywhere lately. First he wrote that great New Yorker piece on the deep puzzle of how some communities can spend so much on medical care without improving health outcomes. Then this week the New York Times reported that Gawande’s piece is at the center of White House discussions about health care reform. Veteran health policy reporter Robert Pear writes that the piece has become “required reading” among President Obama’s staff, and that Obama cited it in a recent meeting with two dozen senators, saying, “This is what we’ve got to fix.”
So needless to say, we’re curious about what Gawande will have to say here tomorrow morning. For clues about his address, here’s a Wall Street Journal blog report on his commencement speech earlier this week at the Harvard School of Public Health. If it’s any indication, he should have some interesting thoughts on modern medicine’s central paradox: The more sophisticated and profound our scientific discoveries become, the more difficult it can be to make those cutting-edge treatments widely available.