Bottom Line Mentality Means Unhealthy Health Care

How many times have you heard a business person say?

“That’s a good idea, but the bottom line is…” or

“We’d love to do that but the bottom line is…”

Businessmen seem to love to say, “The Bottom Line is.”

They probably mean well, but they seem unable to see another side of reality.


The bottom line means only one thing: buying and selling.

What a strange and unsatisfying foundation for health care and for life.

I write this to help us think twice about what we’ve come to accept as normal. Normalcy is the way things appear to be not the way things are or should be.

Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not a bleeding heart trying to rid the world of all evil. I managed a private practice for nearly 40 years trying to make a profit most days. Today, I have bills to pay in my online mentoring business.

What I’m saying is the overemphasis on making money by providing health care is not normal and not healthy.


The Judeo-Christian tradition sees reality through a different lens. The human body is a temple–a sacred place.

The one thing that drove Jesus to anger and violent action was the buying and selling in the temple.

Opportunistic businesspeople were taking advantage of the vulnerable and needy to make money, whatever and wherever the market would bear. The marketplace crowded its way inside the temple walls.

It threatened the sacred place of safety and spiritual healing.

Jesus wouldn’t stand for it. Neither should we.


When we allow buying and selling to have free reign in our places of healing it destroys its inherent value– its sacredness.

It replaces the virtue of medicine with an utterly false way of seeing patients as market value — a worldview where everything and everyone is a mere calculation.

This kind of bottom line thinking must be driven from our temples. It is a silent killer. It kills the souls of the patients and providers. Do you think the soul is nurtured where buying and selling is the main activity?

The preoccupation with exchange value and market position blinds us to the inherent value of caring for the sick. The dignity of every person is lost when they are viewed only as data points.


The objectification of the sick into a means of making a profit will never satisfy the soul because it masks reality.

People are more than their diagnosis and diseases. Therapies are more than a commodity to deliver with a machine-like efficiency to maximize the bottom line.

Our patients are our brothers and sisters to be cared for as whole persons–physiologically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Is that not the way we want to be treated when we are sick?

Seeing people as they really are is to reimagine the truth about the delivery of health care. Seeing reality as it is.

That’s the foundation of a “healthy” health care system, delivering compassionate and skillful care to honest to goodness real people. Now, that’s a bottom line worth living for.

What is your bottom line?


4 responses to “Bottom Line Mentality Means Unhealthy Health Care

  1. Keith says:

    Powerful commentary, Paul.

    All I have to add is, amen.

  2. Pete says:

    Shorter(30) min evaluation times can leave one thinking did we have the time to both hear the patient and what might we have missed?

    1. Paul Potter says:

      Time is at the crux of the matter. How we value humans is often revealed in time and attention.

  3. Ron says:

    Crazy to think that this is the way it operates

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