In October, I wrote about our healthcare system in Healthcare Crisis? Reform? What the medical blogosphere has to say. As a patient, understanding what doctors and other healthcare providers face with the deepening and widening regulations is difficult.
It's not that I don't want to help. I do. It's to my benefit. I wrote about that in Dear Doctor, I can help.... But I find it disheartening to read more and more about the problems in various medical blogs with no guidance on how to "fix" it. Yes, I very much understand THERE IS A PROBLEM. Now, why isn't someone (anyone) in the medical arena (i.e. doctors) organizing and using the huge patient base to help?
So, what do I do? I peruse the blogs, read the news, and try to discern what is important. I've found some interesting information. I need to know what you, the doctor/healthcare provider thinks about it.
Businessweek highlighted the Institute for Healthcare in Donald Berwick: Curing the Healthcare System. According to this article, Berwick is a huge proponent of applying business best practices to health care.
"Other industries had long ago started managing for continual improvement in
products, services, cost structures," says Dr. Berwick, who toured Bell Labs, NASA, and Toyota (TM) in the late '80s to see how those organizations approached quality control. "I soon realized that there was a need for this knowledge on a national level."
Does what he says help us? Does this make a profitable business? Is making the practice of medicine "profitable" what we want or need? If it means that a doctor who does better, is better, works harder, and cares more is more profitable, then by all means, YES!
What does that mean, then? If I understand the economics correctly (and feel free to correct me!), then this will lower waste and decrease cost. Technologies which are expensive but often unnecessary won't be implemented without due thought.
Where does this put those who cannot afford health care? That's the ethical quandary. If you watch the video in my previous post (mentioned above), Healthcare Crisis? Reform? What the medical blogosphere has to say, you'll see that a lot of folks don't prioritize spending. They put health insurance at the bottom of the list of spending priorities rather than nearer the top.
Other folks really do have a dilemma between eating and shelter vs. insurance and health care monies. Where will they go? In a "for profit" system, seeing them isn't profitable. What happens then? In my naive eyes, I would hope there is some charity left for them. But even if not, it looks like offering tax breaks to those who serve the indigent may be a cheaper, win-win situation for all involved. Yes, that includes Uncle Sam. Besides, it doesn't seem fair to expect charity for nothing from a tax-paying business just because it's a healthcare industry when we wouldn't do that from our auto-repair folks.
(The big question I have as I write this is how in the heck do we spell healthcare (or health-care or health care)? I've seen it written umpteen ways and even looked it up. Is there a rule? Yes, there is! Healthcare and health care are synonymous as nouns. Health-care is an adjective but may also be written as healthcare. Please don't hold me to this. I'll inadvertently err when I write.)
Comments, rebuttals, teachings, and such are very welcome. I'm all ears...uh, eyes....