When David Asch GM'87 WG'89 was executive director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, he would occasionally receive phone calls from the institute's founding benefactor.
"Often he started out with a question: 'So David, what percentage of GDP is healthcare these days?'" Asch recalled during an Alumni Weekend panel discussion marking the LDI's 50th anniversary. "And I'd say, 'Well I don't know, Leonard, 15 percent.' At which point he would go ballistic, and say, 'What are you talking about! When I started the Leonard Davis Institute, it was 6 percent! What the heck are you guys doing over there?!'"
At which point Asch would "very carefully" reply: "But had you not started the Leonard Davis Institute, we'd be at 25 percent!"
Asch, who is currently the John Morgan Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics and Health Policy and a professor of healthcare management, was one of three former LDI executive directors on a panel moderated by its current chief, Dan Polsky Gr'96. They explored how the business of medical care has changed in the last half-century, and some of the challenges and opportunities ahead. (Video is available at tinyurl.com/y8utkjwl.)
Though the hefty fraction of gross domestic product that goes to healthcare looms large in such discussions, Mark Pauly, the Bendheim Professor of Health Care Management at Wharton, dismissed it as "the world's most pernicious measure of a country's efficiency of its healthcare system."