Once again we bid farewell to an author - this time a discomfitingly recent one. James Mongan passed away yesterday at Massachusetts General Hospital after a battle with angiosarcoma, a form of cancer that affects the blood vessels. He was 69.
Jim's work on the management, delivery, and quality of medical care was both global and local. As the Boston Globe points out, he was best known in the area for lengthy tenures as the president of both Partners Health Care and Mass General. And he played a significant role in the state's pioneering health care law, passed in 2006. But as the Globe obit notes, he also served in the Carter adminstration and saw the availability of health care as a global problem to be solved globally, or at least nationally.
Both of these strands - the local and the global - come together in Chaos and Organization in Health Care, the 2009 book that Jim cowrote with his Partners colleague Tom Lee. In it they laid out their recipe for broadening access to care through the removal of waste and inefficiency caused by the rapid growth of medical technology. A better delivery model, they argue, can better equip doctors to treat the neediest patients without increasing the cost burden on the system as a whole. It was a large-scale vision, but it was dervied from Mongan and Lee's extensive experience as doctors and administrators.
As the Globe obit notes, for all his enthusiasm for the advances of medical technology, he was himself something of a Luddite. he told a reporter a few years ago that he didn't own a cell phone and never checked his own email. Yet he never wavered in his belief that he could do more to help those in need of care.
He will be missed.