This week on Q&A our guest is Matthew Heineman, director and producer of the documentary film “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare.” Heineman shares the premise of the film which is to examine the deficiencies in America’s healthcare system and explore cost effective solutions.
The film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and is currently showing in select theaters. Heineman co-directed the movie with veteran filmmaker Susan Froemke. He talks about the issues that arise from fee-for-service medical reimbursement that compensates doctors for each procedure, and in some cases leads to overtreatment of preventable diseases. He highlights alternatives to this method of physician compensation, such as the plan adopted by the Cleveland Clinic which pays doctors a salary and incentivizes them to provide better treatment as measured by patient’s results. Heineman introduces viewers to Dr. Erin Martin, an Oregon general practitioner who quits her clinic after feeling that productivity quotas were being imposed upon doctors. She states that the quality of care was compromised in this manner. Heineman shares solutions which include an experiment by the military to use acupuncture in the place of pain medication, a fellowship program by Dr. Andrew Weil that teaches doctors about the importance of nutrition in preventing illness, and research by Dr. Dean Ornish demonstrating how lifestyle change can prevent and even reverse heart disease. Matthew talks about why he became a filmmaker, and what he plans to do for his next project.
Matthew Heineman received a degree in history from Dartmouth College in 2005. He joined some friends to start the Young Americans Project, which he describes as, “a multi-media undertaking to try to figure out what makes our generation tick.” Out of this emerged Heineman’s first documentary, “Our Time,” which aired on the Documentary Channel in 2011. He worked with HBO for two years as a producer for “The Alzheimer’s Project” before founding his own production company, Our Time Projects, in 2009. He lives and works in New York City.