The Problem with Healthcare
Outside of all the politics and debate, everyone truly wants the same thing. Not to worry about healthcare.
People’s experiences with healthcare are generally very traumatic. The unfortunate reality of illness and death on loved ones is overwhelming. I think everyone would agree if there was something simple they could do to prevent this from occurring, they would.
Aside from the absence of HEALTH, healthcare has an intrinsically negative feel because of the financial burden it brings. No one wants to think about how much an illness will cost them financially, especially coming from the income they worked so hard to earn. Out of all things, no one wants the focus to be on the money. The price of healthcare is simply too much.
In my opinion, these are the 2 major dilemmas of modern healthcare: unaffordable costs & quality of care.
The Energy of Tesla
I have mentioned before that I am an avid follower of Elon Musk (founder & CEO of Tesla Motors) and his Master Plan. Through this, I have realized what it means to be a successful visionary. Musk first made his fortune from the cooperative start-up, now known to the world as PayPal. But instead of taking an early retirement with the $165 million he acquired, he decided it would be a much better idea to start two companies, one for rockets and one for electric cars. And let’s put it this way: no successful investor in 2004 was thinking the rocket market was especially hot. Furthermore, America’s auto companies were strong than ever and thought to be insurmountable.
The financial crisis in 2008 resulted in Tesla being ridiculed by investing firms, and most thought it would fail within the year. How could a luxury car company survive the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression? Currently as of 2017, production on Model 3 is starting which currently has an estimated 400,000 deposits for reservations. Tesla now has the highest market value of all the automobile manufacturers in the United States.
Elon Musk tells people he started Tesla, not as another way to make money, but as a way to change the world. He was not afraid of competition; in fact, he encouraged it because he wanted to accelerate the transition of the market as a whole AWAY from fuel-based transportation TO an electric-based travel powered by solar energy. By creating Tesla, Musk paved the way for a more sustainable future for America by eliminating fuel costs for consumers. Consequently, this provided cheaper costs for individuals and better outcomes for our society as a whole. Doesn’t it just make sense?
The Translation of Success
There are a few major concepts we can pull from the Tesla story. Sustainability, innovation, and focus on the end goal.
The idea of sustainability can be applied further than the energy sector and fossil fuels. Anything that conserves resources and increases efficiency is metaphorically going green. In the same way the petroleum dependence of automobiles led to the massive opportunity for electric cars, healthcare systems are in a position for radical change to incur.
Perpetual innovation is the concept of always searching for new ways to improve existing realities. Much of entrepreneurship is based on fixing inefficiencies in routine processes. If there is something that can be done better, there is an opportunity for someone to do it. Steve Jobs realized this philosophy many times when he creatively merged a basic cell phone with an iPod and added internet capabilities. Similarly, the healthcare field would benefit from creative minds innovating new ways of saving costs and providing better care.
Lastly, I believe that we should always have our focus on where we want to be. Reformers and innovators need to take on a new lens of perspective in order to solve the substantial deficits in our current system. This focus on the bigger picture would lessen the distractions of intricate details, and allow healthcare workers to provide better holistic care.
Unfortunately healthcare is very broken right now. This is not politically leaning, because I firmly believe that there is no one person or party to blame solely for the current situation of healthcare. I also do not believe that blame fixes problems.
My proposal for a solution to the healthcare predicament in the United States is to take these concepts seen in Tesla (sustainability, innovation, and focus) and apply them to American healthcare. Here are 3 specific examples of utilizing a new lens to solve current problems:
1) Sustainability: Utilize specific skills of providers and other members of the healthcare team by legislatively backing their role in the healthcare process. For example, allowing more members of the healthcare team to be reimbursed by Medicare/Medicaid for clinical services they provide to patients. This would provide funding for all levels of care providers to provide expertise on their specialty while also reducing the cost-intensive physician workload.
2) Innovation: Many people do not realize how many healthcare dollars are spent on verifying information. One example of this for pharmacists is the process of medication reconciliation (making sure the patient is receiving ALL of their home meds while at the hospital). The question I ask is why do we spend millions of dollars each year to complete a process that an integrated hospital-pharmacy database would do much more efficiently (more than just insurance information). Local pharmacies could partner with existing health systems in the area to provide digital medication lists in exchange for discharge referrals to their pharmacy.
3) Focus on the end goal: Providing longitudinal treatment plans for patients that are followed up by consistent care providers who are intimately familiar with the individualized care of their patients. So often we are focused on the acute problem, basing our therapy on only the current issue. Integrating all of the acute treatments with out-patient care focused on overall health goals. This would facilitate a smoother transition of care between hospitals and primary care providers while focusing on preventative treatments/medicine.
These are 3 thoughts that I hope to implement one day as a pharmacist. However, the real reason I wrote this article is to provoke thought in people’s minds of how to find solutions. What ways have you thought of for improving our healthcare? Feel free to comment your thoughts and ideas. Discussion is the most powerful catalyst of change.
My message, quite simply put is this:
Just think. Innovative. Ideas. Fix Healthcare.