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The Cost of Living with Chronic Illness

The advances of medical science have been nothing short of remarkable over the last few decades. Illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes have become chronic illnesses. Proper ongoing medication and regular physician interaction have resulted in longer and healthier lives. Yet, the emotional and psychological costs of living with these disease states are just beginning to be understood in healthcare. As the grandfather of two type-I diabetics, I have watched first-hand how the disease is an ever present factor in their lives - 7/24/365. There is no escaping the constant reminder that their lives differ from that of their peers. From the monitoring of their blood glucose levels to the calculation of carbs in their diet, every event in their lives is driven by blood sugar levels -  either steady-state, too high or too low.

 

At times, I become cynical about the incentives or disincentives that stymie the clinical research so necessary to achieve real life-improving breakthroughs. We watch the prices of insulin continue to escalate to the point where there are circumstances in which a parent has to decide between insulin and adequate food or housing. I often wonder, considering the huge profits the drug manufacturers make on the sale of insulin, what role these executives play in placing speed bumps on the road to progress and breakthroughs.

Filed Under: Insider, changes in healthcare, medical access, high-cost drugs, cancer drugs cost

Mental Health Disease - the Silent Illness

My first contact with a tangible mental illness and its implications occurred as a young lawyer trying a murder case in which my client, assigned to me by the court, was accused of murdering his wife. In the normal course, I sought a mental health evaluation of my client. I called one of the most prominent forensic psychiatrists in Detroit and asked him if he would evaluate this individual to determine if he could stand trial or if there was a mental health defense to his criminal actions. The psychiatrist visited the individual at the county jail and conducted an evaluation of the man’s mental status. The doctor called me and indicated that he was willing to testify that this individual had experienced a dissociative reaction, and during that reaction his wife had expired. The court heard this testimony and determined my client was not guilty by reason of insanity. To this day, that case and the court's decision still resonates with me. I was young and naïve and quite uncertain as to the legitimacy of the psychiatrist’s conclusion. However, in our criminal justice system, asserting the best defense available was my ultimate responsibility.

Filed Under: Health Management, healthcare quality, changes in healthcare, mental status affects health, Mental Health

Shopping for Art - Healthcare

 

Have you ever thought about the fact that when you walk into an art gallery you are drawn to certain artists and the works they have created? This idea that in art one size does not fit all also applies to healthcare. We see numerous articles about how we as Americans comparison shop for our cars, dishwasher and almost anything else you can find on Amazon or other websites. In her article for Real Clear Health on the future of healthcare, Seema Verma states, "Our demand for a value is the engine that drives competition which, in turn, lowers prices and inspires innovation to improve the quality of the products we purchase." She goes on to say, "Yet, when it comes to one of the most important services we receive- our healthcare- this consumer driven engine sputters.”

Filed Under: Insider, Health Management, healthcare quality, changes in healthcare, medical access

Quality of Life

“Heart Disease Roars Back,” was the front page headline of an extensive article in the June 22-23, 2019, “Wall Street Journal” on the increase in heart disease. The article by Betsy McKay states, "The death rate for cardiovascular disease – which includes heart disease and strokes – has fallen just 4% since 2011 after dropping more than 70% over six decades, according to mortality statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." The article goes on to state, "Particularly alarming is that the death rate that is actually rising for middle-aged Americans."

Filed Under: Health Management, patient satisfaction, mental status affects health, preventive healthcare

You Need a Specialist to Choose a Specialist.

 Some years ago I spoke at an American Hospital Association meeting to a large group of hospital executives and trustees. The first slide of my presentation was a picture of a 747 jumbo Jet. The question I asked was, “Why would I start my presentation with an aircraft to an audience of hospital leadership?” Then I asked, “How long would we Americans tolerate a 747 jumbo jet crashing every day-and-a-half?” The response was obviously universal -  we would not. My next comment was that if you do the calculation, that was the number of hospital deaths caused by nosocomial (hospital generated) viruses. I was reminded of this story when I saw the article published by Jane O'Donnell in “USA Today” on May 15, 2019. The articles caption was “Low-rated US Hospitals are Deadlier due to Mistakes, Botched Surgery, and Infections.” 

Filed Under: Insider, Health Management, doctor shortages, healthcare quality, patient satisfaction, changes in healthcare, medical access, chattanooga