Dare to Be 100: Medicine's Anomalies

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Some time back eminent Canadian medical economist Robert Evans reached a bizarre conclusion. The nurses in Southern California were striking for higher wages. At the very same time the Hospital Council of California had determined that there was an excess of hospital beds in the area.

This prompted Evans to observe "isn't it strange to note that there exists a situation in which there is not enough money to pay for something that we don't need in the first place?"

Such a pithy query conjures up all sorts of extended situations. This week Paul Krugman's piece in the New York Times dealt with the problems confronting Obamacare. He observes that despite the huge gains provided by the universal coverage aspect that is inherent in Obamacare the program is burdened by contentious, entrenched, constituencies that are focused solely on their own selfish interests. Krugman predicts paralysis as a result. Sad.

The whole health care field is messed up. It is akin to neglecting a splinter in your foot with a disabling limp instead of getting rid of the splinter, or failure to turn off the tap in a flooding room.

Our great nation spends a multiple of that of other nations' GNPs on healthcare, and receives a paltry benefit. Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School's book "The Innovator's Prescription" details how dysfunctional our current system is. It costs too much and does too little.

My present challenge to my profession is "to assure the human potential." Its current assurance is meager. I detailed this in my book, "Next Medicine." It confirmed Kuhn's need for a Scientific Revolution.

The programmatic details of the necessary insurrection are simple. Change focus on disease to focus on health. Change focus from treatment to focus on prevention. Anomalous allocation serves only a few.

Medicine's anomalies are glaring.

1) Christensen C. The Innovator's Prescription 2009 McGraw Hill NY
2) Bortz W. Next Medicine 2012 Oxford Univ Press NY.