Frankly, I didn't know what to say. I was asked to give a few remarks recently at a dinner preceding the opening of HIMSS, the major healthcare information systems trade show.
The person who asked me to speak suggested I offer my perspective of what was going on in healthcare--and even to prophesy the future. I told the audience that anyone who was willing to prophesy the future of healthcare was either mentally deficient or ignorant or both.
I explained that I recently had experienced some health problems of my own. My back and right hip were the culprits. I had visited many physicians trying to get some determination of what was wrong with me. It had cost my company a veritable fortune for me to not only see a bunch of physicians who weren't sure what my problem was but also to participate in extensive physical therapy.
I told the audience the thing that hit me the most was the brief amount of time physicians were willing to spend with a patient who had come to them for help. In my case, they all seemed to be in a great hurry. Others with whom I've talked feel the same as I do.
I know what managed care has done to the practice of medicine, and I also know insurance companies make life miserable for physicians. But patients are still customers, and they should not have to suffer for the sins of others.
There is something so seriously wrong with the American healthcare system today you might even say it's broken and needs fixing. Yes, I am a great advocate for the American healthcare system, and I believe we have the best physicians in the world, but we've also got big problems that need addressing immediately.
I told the audience my concerns had a lot to do with them. Like a lot of other people, I believe the Internet is going to have a profound effect on healthcare. The incredible high-tech systems being created are wonderful, but too many of us are forgetting that the reason most people came into healthcare is to help others.
Too many third parties have gotten in the way of the physician-patient relationship, which is the bedrock of our healthcare system. Any individual or any organization that forgets that is destined to fail.
It's a testimonial to the competence of physicians that patients wish for more time with them. And what an opportunity for those working to create new technologies to be able to help patients have more time and communicate more readily with their physicians. Those who can bring this phenomenon about will not only flourish, but will be doing a great service to American healthcare as well.
More patient involvement could even signal the beginning of a new age in healthcare. The technology is there, but the implementation requires leaders who have the courage to step forward and map the course.
As someone who recently has had dealings with the healthcare system from the patient perspective, I hasten to add the importance of remembering all the old-fashioned ideals: mission, vision, values, service and leadership. Companies that develop a solid game plan and stay with it through thick and thin usually end up on solid footing. But those that simply play the game one play at a time end up in the loser's column.
It's all about basics,
Charles S. Lauer