Readings To Consider - 3/30/21
Books and Articles worth a Review…
Terrorism and Health Care – In early February, Brian Michael Jenkins – an expert in terrorism who serves as a Senior Advisor for the non-profit, non-partisan think tank Rand Corporation – wrote an article on the issues related to terrorism. So, you immediately will ask the question: What does this have to do with health care? More than we tend to realize. First, there are the increased warnings which have been issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security noting that Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) inspired by foreign terrorist groups are not only targeting government officials, they are also advocating threats of violence against critical infrastructure, including the health care, electric, and telecommunications sectors. The health care threats emanate from misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19.
First, there are the obvious traumas inflicted on individuals, groups, and communities through terrorist-type activities. Pushing a 70-some elder over by running at them to knock them to the ground inflicts pain and injury on the individual and terror within the community which is targeted. Second, there is the subterranean stress that clinicians treat from individuals who show up in emergency rooms and clinics with depression, anxiety, and all manner of emotional disorders. And, third, third is the secondary infliction of all sorts on members of society that cause many to shut down, shut out or turn off one another because of disagreements and positions that oppose one another. But, it’s not just the singular issue of contrary opinions – it is the sequelae of turning anyone with positions or perspectives different from our own off completely so that engagement, discussion, or debate are buried asunder. In many respects, these three elements are infecting the nature of our society and it is painful to wake every day to yet another event driving wedges between the members of our society.
In his article, Jenkins points out that the Biden Administration has stated its intentions for implementing actions that will address the questions related to domestic violent extremism. He further notes that – as a nation – we are experience acts of violence on both the far-left and far-right extremists. I’m not serving as an apologist for the recent flurry of events from the far-right. Rather, I’m being a realist that no “extreme” side of any political debate is likely to alter the course of a country’s directions if it truly believes that it embodies a true democracy. Democracy – a priori – requires the discussion, debate and dialogue in order to succeed. And, if we don’t have a stable democracy – how will we ever solve the pressing problems of health care for all, education for younger folks and re-education for out-of-work older folks, infrastructure that allows us to engage in state-of-the-art commerce and any manner of other society needs. So, in the end, I think solving these problems DIRECTLY affects health care in ways that are profound and formidable for a society purporting to serve the people.
Jenkins’ article is very worthy of a read. It outlines very clearly that domestic terrorism is a far more pernicious affliction than international terrorism on the lives of American citizens. We need to consider his decades of experience in the field of terrorism as we try to figure out what policies to implement and/or change – for the health of the nation!
Letters from an American by Heather Cox Richardson – Several years ago, I signed up for a daily observational note from Heather Cox Richardson, a Professor with Boston College but, more importantly, an observer of the American experience. She offers on a daily basis very poignant observations and outtakes on the American experience through the lens of history, politics and the like. You will definitely want to read her March 26, 2021 thoughts on the legislation passed by the Georgia legislature and signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA). It’s a rewind through history and how diligent we must be in today’s current climate. You can also sign up for her newsletter if – after reading her observations – you have a further inclination to be challenged on a regular basis.
Understanding Health Care – First, there are tons of books on the market related to health care. They often devolve into the complexities with dry statistics and description of complex relationship between the various players in the health care field. I’ve recently come upon a book that includes all of that information BUT, in a very understandable way. It’s like a “users guide” to the complexities of health care, titled: “The U.S. Healthcare Ecosystem: Payers, Providers, Producers” by Lawton Robert Burns. He developed the content of the book over a number of years as a “guide through the wilderness” for his Wharton MBA students. I recommend it – even for those of us who have been involved in wilderness wanderings for a long time. BTW – I don’t get a commission…
Economic Optimism – In the midst of the pandemic, it’s refreshing to hear some potentially positive news on the economic front. Neil Irwin, a reporter for the New York Times posted an article on March 13, 2021 listing 17 Reasons to Let the Economic Optimism Begin. It is a very interesting piece and I encourage everyone to read it. The basic premise is that we’ve come through a period of rapid globalization and technology change which has reduced the bargaining power of works in rich countries resulting in a movement of goods and services production to emerging countries. Secondly, the technological revolution is not over! The pandemic has served as a massive stimulus for innovation across the board among all sectors of the economy. I agree. In fact, for health care – which in the USA represents nearly 20% of the GDP – we’ve learned the virtual care if, if, if managed and deployed properly can be as effective, if not more effective, than more traditional modes of care delivery. Given the inefficiency that we all know exists within our industry, we should expect that health care will be a substantial target on the innovation, efficiency and change list of industries.