Hospitals are not NPOs

I had been really busy this past week, which is why I haven’t been writing daily. Like I said before, if I don’t write daily, you can safely assume I’m on some kind of business trip. But to be honest, while it wasn’t a business trip for me this week, 10 Korean startups, including the one I’m working at, flew to Japan for a series of events, and the schedule was quite hectic with early morning events starting as early as 7 am, and night events ending as late as 10 pm.

During the event, I met one of the startups that makes use of AI-powered imaging to increase accuracy of medical diagnosis. For example, the current technology available to doctors offers a 70% accuracy of cancer detection, while the startup’s technology raises that to 84%. If it were just 1 or 2%, that could be negligible, but a 14% increase in accuracy can save a lot of lives. So, I had naively thought that every hospital would want it. However, speaking with the CEO, I learned that many doctors are unwilling to implement the system because it’s costly, and so they are fine with the current 70% accuracy.

I was flabbergasted at first because, why wouldn’t a doctor want to implement a system that helps save more lives? Until I recall that doctors are no Samaritans. While they could have chosen their careers to save lives, the truth is, clinics and hospitals are no NPOs. Their purpose of running their businesses is still for money and profit. If all they are interested in is saving lives, they would probably have joined Doctors Without Borders.

It really is unfortunate that this is the case, but we can’t really blame the doctors as they are human and have mouths to feed (even if it’s just their own). But with the recent news on Abe’s proposal for free education to all Japanese people, that got me thinking: would you rather have free education or free health care?

For me, I’d rather have the latter. Taking things to the extreme, if you give me a choice of being very uneducated or being very ill, I’d rather be very uneducated. At least, I’d still be alive.

What use is a Harvard graduate in a coffin?


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