Industry's Health Care Ailing

I fully agree with your editorial in the July edition (see WAW — July '04, p.5). I have been married to the auto industry for 30 years, 20 of which has seen me working in health care. I have observed both sides of the equation. Inefficiencies abound, and hackles arise when “patients” are considered inanimate objects that need manipulating. Hospitals blame doctors, doctors blame insurance companies, and insurance companies blame the governmental regulations.

Through this maze, patients and OEMs suffer. Only when not-for-profit hospitals see themselves in the business of health-care and work to improve processes can true success for all involved be attainable. Health care appears to be 10 to 15 years behind the auto industry in process control. Unfortunately, they need to operate with a for-profit, manufacturing, service industry mindset.

Those health systems that have made the change prosper. The shake-out for the rest of the hospitals, clinics and physicians has only just begun.
Monna L. Johnson, Ph.D.
MedCentral Health System
Mansfield, OH

I had a recent bout with my health and had to travel to the Mayo Clinic for diagnosis and consequently had some serious procedures performed. Being an engineer, I observed the testing procedures used by the Mayo Clinic. Their testing speed and efficiency is a marvel to behold.

  • Between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. each weekday they perform over 1,000 blood tests. The results are on the system-wide computer screens within the hour.
  • Spinal taps are performed by a highly trained nurse — not an MD. Spinal taps are all this person does, day in and day out.

My point is that if Medicare and the states showed some leadership, health-care testing costs could be reduced. In Michigan, for example, testing could be regionalized. A centralized testing unit could be set up in the Detroit area, Lansing, Grand Rapids, etc. With computer connections, the hometown doctor could review the results. Each centralized test location would have the advantages of scale (assembly-line efficiency).

Medicare then could apply downward pressure on testing costs.
Thomas Shaw
Dearborn, MI

Wants Cummins Hybrid

What gives, DC? When I first heard about the Dodge Ram hybrid (see WAW — July '04, p. 29), I thought it was a great idea. But, it was going to have a Cummins turbodiesel and that doesn't look like the Cummins logo on the side of that truck. Will the Cummins engine option be available in the “contractor's special?”

No, despite my address, I don't work for Cummins. But I would like to see my hometown keep some more jobs.
Dan White
Columbus, IN

Editor's Note: Rest easy. The contractor's special does indeed have the Cummins-made 5.9L turbodiesel I-6 as standard. We should have mentioned the fact, particularly because the Cummins won a Ward's 10 Best Engines award for 2004.

Interior Colors Boring

Auto makers need to reconsider the color choice of interiors (see WAW — July '04, p.18). I am tired of the bland choices.

Look at the new Dodge Durango. The choices for interior colors are slate grey sandstone (light gray) and khaki. Where is the imagination of the designers? I know I am dating myself, but back in the '60s and even '70s you had a wide array of colors.

You could order an Eldorado with white leather and red piping on the seats and doors. That was hot. My '68 Charger was dark blue with light blue interior. My buddy's was green/green. But you can't seem to get that anymore. What would look hotter than the new Magnum in red with a maroon or burgundy interior?

Come on guys, you need to hold the auto makers' feet to the fire and criticize them for their color blindness. Give me color choices — not any color as long as it's grey. As a supplier of batteries to the automotive world, we are even making batteries in different colors, besides black.
Frank H. DeFrain — CQA
Wauwatosa, WI

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