Brad Pitt, 'Moneyball,' Billy Beane and Health Care

On the off chance that you didn't hear of Brad Pitt's new movie called "Moneyball," it's based on the book by the same title, written by Michael Lewis. Lewis spent a year with the Oakland A's baseball team and explains how the A's, under general manager Billy Beane, used unconventional approaches to making decisions about choosing players for the team, while achieving better-than-average results at lower cost. Basically, Beane and cohorts used the bazillion statistics created in baseball to find undervalued players and help them play better, giving much less weight to the gut instinct of baseball scouts. The movie finished second in the weekend box office charts.

This approach was required because the A's didn't have the money to spend like opponents such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and, now at least, the Phillies.

PhillyPharma read and enjoyed the book when it was released. PhillyPharma saw and enjoyed the movie over the weekend. Inquirer movie critic Steven Rea's interview with Pitt and review are here.

This book became a must-read in business schools because contrarian thinking is often a way to break molds - or business models - that no longer work.

Know any of those?

Health care, would be one, of course.

In 2008, Beane, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat, and former Congressman and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich co-wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times that basically said America's health-care system would benefit from greater reliance on numerical evidence and less on gut instinct, not only for lower costs, but also for better outcomes.

Just as Beane never claimed to have invented the then-relatively obscure statistical approach to baseball, neither he, nor Kerry nor Gingrich claimed to be the first to suggest evidence-based medicine is better and cheaper.

If you want to read that piece, it is here. The discussion continues. What do you think?