Friday, January 30, 2015

Orwellian Thoughts on Health Reform

Big brother is watching you.

George Orwell (1901-1950), 1984

In God we trust. All others bring data.

W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993), American statistician

ObamaCare critics fear government will control their lives, redistribute their incomes, invade their privacy; expose their data for all the world to see; and limit their choices of doctors, health plans, and hospitals. There is some truth to all of this, but the fears are overblown.

There is also the optimistic belief that computers, the Internet, and social media, descending down from the algorithmic Cloud, will be the magic lever that will provide a cure for cancer, lift health care to a rational level and end the uncertainties and gray zones of medicine and turn it from an Art into a Science.There is also some truth to this set of beliefs.

It is already feasible , for example, to use algorithms to study body language, voice inflections, body rhythms, demographic data, interactive medical and social histories, genetic DNA patterns, to arrive at a precise diagnosis before doctors even examine the patient.

There is the reality that that information technology is not limited to use by the “good guys.” ISIS, other terrorists, hackers, greedy marketers, and foreign governments are capable of using and exploiting the Internet for their own ends.

Finally, strong and persuasive human personalities can overcome , neutralize, or supplement data. Roger Ailes, founder of Fox News, recently noted personalities of Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly, contributed to their success as much as their beliefs. This is true of political leaders as well as media personalities if you look at Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and other persuasive personalities.

The cult of personality is just as important as the cult of data. As Carl Jung, MD (1875-1961) observed,” The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is a reaction, both are transformed (Modern Man in Search of a Soul (1933).

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