Sunday, January 5, 2014

Towards a Better Health System -  Leaner Bodies and More Practical Computer Usage

The obvious, which is not so obvious, and the simple, which is not so simple.

The Practical Cogitator, 1959

This morning I listened to  David Gregory, Meet the Press host, interview Delos Cosgrove, MD, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, and James Noseworthy, MD, CEO of the Mayo Clinic, about the impact of ObamaCare on the health system and its prospects. 

The interview was an exercise in the obvious.  

Both CEOs predicted a rolling series of changes as we strive to adjust to the health law.  But what stuck in my mind were these two obvious observations.

Cosgrove spoke of the importance of controlling the obesity epidemic.  He noted obesity accounts for 10% of health costs, and how  the percentage will climb as we grow fatter.   Controlling obesity is no piece of cake, of course.  Many of us will continue to dig our own graves with our own teeth.    We will not eat five fruits and veggies each day. We will not eschew but will continue to chew fried, fatty, and processed food.  But as we and our children become diabetic, sleep apneic, breathless,  and go down with health attacks and stroke,  we will begin to listen about the perils of being fat.

Noseworthy called for wider,  more practical uses of current computer information technologies across state lines, between institutions, and among doctors and patients.      He was referring, I presume,  to wider use of doctor-patient doctor emails,   to patients going online to search for health care guidance, to doctors making better use of electronic health records, to health care organizations and providers sharing information, to the industrial medical complex better use of  computer technologies, such as Skype to reach hard-t- reach patients in their homes,  at work, and in remote locations.

What Cosgrove and Noteworthy propose is  obvious but it is not simple.   Entrenched behavioral patterns will have to be changed,  state laws forbidding interstate health care commerce will have to be altered,   privacy and security issues will have to be addressed.  

I close with two quotes with followup restatements.

Obesity is a mental state, a disease brought on by boredom and disappointment  -  Cyril Connolly (1903-1974).

Obesity is also a physical state, a disease brought on at random by overeating  and lead to an early grave appointment - my restatement.

Technology …the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it  - Max Frisch (1911-1993)

Technology ..the knack of practically re-arranging  the world that we can experience it-  my restatement.

Tweet:   Two effective ways of improving health care are to one,  lower obesity rates, and two, making more practical use of computer technologies.

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