Based on your own family's experience, what do you think we should do to improve health care in America?
The health care is fine, it's paying for it that needs improvement. I'm not wise enough to know how to fix that. But I have seen many examples of why the costs are so high. Just one example, my ex-husband is a recovering alcholic. He had just come out of detox and was complaining about some strange upper abdominal and chest pains. We went to his doctor's office and the doctor ordered him to be admitted to the hospital for some tests. The hospital was right across the street. We could easily have walked it in less than a minute, but the protocal is that he has to go from the doctor's office to the hospital in an ambulance. The reason behind the ambulance trip across the street all had to do with the doctor's liability and his medical mal-practice insurance. While in the ambulance, the EMTs hooked him up to monitors, took all sorts of readings, and gave him nitro for the chest pain. The trip across the street to the hospital took over an hour because of the wait for the ambulance and all the treatment received while in the ambulance. After an overnight stay and many tests, the pains turned out to be nothing more than a very upset stomach. The cost of this little adventure was several thousand dollars.
From my personal experience, there is a lot we can do as a nation to improve healthcare and reduce costs.
In an age where most businesses can provide individualized service, and with the access to information, patients should have better access to information to help them make informed decisions on how they treat illness.
It seems as though medical professionals want to keep us in the dark, they discourage patients from doing research etc.
So, to me, the issues are:
- get the best, targeted care for your health issue
- have access to information regarding options
- have access to information about the side effects of drugs, tests, scans, treatments
- reduce costs by not over-treating patients - encouraging healthy alternatives rather than designer drugs
- reduce costs and compound health issues by ordering fewer tests - only the ones necessary
- allow the patient the right to choose natural alternatives which are significantly cheaper, and provide long term sustained health - thereby reducing costs of future illness.
It's not impossible. Simply passing a healthcare bill to make sure everyone gets 'standard' treatment is NOT going to solve the health issues in our country.
The information to improve the system is out there. Healthcare could be more individualized, less toxic, less expensive...
It would take a centralized computer database and network, and some changes in how care is managed - but it's not a huge leap.
I'lll address your points one by one:
Patient's can and should have better access to info; Unfortunately, many patients still think the doctor's word is the be all and end all. They still put the doc up on a pedestal and for health care to work, the patient and physician ought to be partners; with mutual respect.
As a medical professional, I don't think the desire is to keep patients in the dark, although I have run into situations where time is at a premium and my patient teaching suffers. Physicians explain, but IMHO (and possibly self-serving opinion), nurses do a better job. but, either way, we need to make a more concerted effort to teach patients the WHY behind their conditions or treatment(s).
I think the reason patients are discouraged from doing research is that a good portion of the stuff out there on the internet is just that-STUFF. It doesn't hold up to scientific, peer-reviewed scrutiny. That's not to say that all that's out there is bad, because it's not. often, too, patients go to the doc office with a 15 page article that they want him to read. The days of docs having the time in the world to read 15 page articles (and let's say they have 6 people bring them articles) are gone. Even Marcus Welby had limits!
"have access to information about the side effects of drugs, tests, scans, treatments"- The problem here is like the ads we see on television for meds; if by the end of the ad, most people don't want to take the med, for fear of losing their life, I wouldn't be surprised. But, legally, drug manufacturers have to disclose all that information, though some of those side effects may be rare.
As far as options, it is the role of the nurse and physician to advocate for patients. That said, the time has come for patients to speak up if they feel their rights are being stepped upon and they're being steamrolled. A polite, "I'm not ready to make a decision about treatment, now" will prompt the question, "Why (aren't you ready to make a decision?" and a discussion will ensue. Like it or not, because healthcare providers are spread so thin, patient's need to take a more pro-active position regarding their health care. This doesn't mean they need to be experts; just make an investment in their health and ask questions or say they nee 'HELP!'
I'm not dumping on patients; everyone on the healthcare team need to become invested in the care of the patient and al involved need understanding that the team does it's best to advocate for the patient.
he United States offers the finest healthcare in the world. That said, when it comes to cost of that healthcare, we are caught in a hammerlock; we MUST streamline delivery of that healthcare which takes up a growing portion of our GDP, an unsustainable portion. The World. Health Organization ranks the US as highest per capita in expenditure of it's healthcare costs, but 37th in DELIVERY of that healthcare.
I think all people of this country agree that our system is broken and it needs to be overhauled; but there's disagreement about how to solve it. Personally, I think we need to put more effort into preventative care; but I know that will not solve the whole problem.
Clearly we need to make health insurance more affordable by forcing insurance companies to cover more stuff. Because we learned economics on opposite day.
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