The Occasional Perspective - 2/26/

The Occasional Perspective

Opinions and Reflections 

The Health Of The World – If one listens to the news on a daily basis, one could become increasingly anxious. And, that’s happened to me. Anxious about what? There are so many fronts, it’s hard to ratchet down to just a few items but as I consider what we are facing in the world, I naturally tend to use my “healthcare” lens as a framework for evaluating, considering, and devising solutions. So, bear with me as I try to make sense of my “feelings” on several issues we are facing throughout the world. But, before I provide my outline of issues, just know that I’m quite middle of the road because I sincerely believe that most of our nation's problems have been solved through a compromise where both sides meet in the middle to an acceptable solution. Back in the late ’60s when buildings were being occupied and, in some cases, destroyed – I shared with many of my friends over coffee that “the solution to our problems was not by throwing or breaking down walls but was accomplished by building things one brick at a time.” I still feel that way today.                    

  • The Israeli-Palestinian War – First, the slaughter of 2700 innocent civilians on October 7, 2023, just north of Gaza was an abomination!! However, the reciprocal slaughter of over 28,000 Palestinian civilians (as of February 23, 2023) and the push to displace them into Rafa with no resources is causing further widespread illness and death. While we all can abhor the initial incursion into Israel, we should all hold the same consideration for Palestine which is becoming an equivalent abomination!! As we enter the four-year political cycle in the USA, it is clear to me that any way you cut it, the war in Palestine will become a central issue. However, you can do something that will help. Instead of your usual contribution to your favorite charity, consider adding to it or shifting some of it over by contributing to Doctors Without Borders. This is a group that is making a difference and helping people in dire need of medical and health assistance. It’s a small gesture but lots of little small gestures make a difference. Consider it.
  • The Rise of Authoritarianism – The move by leaders toward adopting an authoritarian approach to leadership is taking hold throughout the world. If you look at this type of leadership, it tends to evolve during periods when there is broad angst in the populace. Whether it is Brazil, Hungary, China (via “the Party”), Russia, Nicaragua, or the USA – it ultimately is not a viable model for nations. It’s been proven over and over across the centuries. And, the USA is no exception. Forget about all of the lawsuits – a narcissistic, authoritarian approach in our country will not long succeed.
  • The Seeming Demise of a Functional National Legislative Body (at least in the USA) – What can I say, I’m disappointed on all sides. Our nation has so many problems that need to be resolved from immigration to infrastructure to education to whatever your favorite issue is – that the he-said-she-said-they-said discourse of the US Congress is more than disconcerting.
  • The Boomer Stress on Society – We older folks (my 73rd birthday is this month) are stressing society. And, it’s a phenomenon that is coming to head throughout the world…now I thank FDR and all who followed him that made Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and all of the other programs a reality. For the last bunch of decades, I delivered health care and complained about the insurance companies, drug prices, etc. but went about my business. I never really used health care; however. And, within the last year, I feel like on track to become a super-user 😊. But, I also realize that there are a whole bunch of super-users out there like me who are consuming more and more resources that are slowly eking away resources for younger folks like support for grammar schools, college education, child and daycare, community infrastructure, and a host of other societal demands. So, we need to look at what can done to mitigate the costs so that equity abounds throughout the nation for all generations!
  • The Drug Crisis Sweeping Across America – Too many of us live in cocoons where the availability of illicit drugs does not seem to be a problem. Alcohol maybe but, not fentanyl. But, if we go down the street or out into the community or into the rural areas of our nation – it’s a big problem!! It’s a “health” problem. But, it’s not just the illegal and illicit drugs, it’s also the increasing legal drugs (SEE commentary below on “cannabis”) that are of concern – as well as, the cost of pharmaceutical drugs. In some cases, they are not just more costly but “exorbitantly” more costly. This is fueled – in my estimation – by the US Congress’s decision that does not allow for competitive negotiations with the drug companies on behalf of *Care, *Caid, *Veterans Care; and, other federally-managed programs. We – the healthcare people – need to be much more active in working to solve these problems.
  • The Meaning of a Professional in an AI/ML Era – And, finally, I come to the question of what does it mean to be a “professional”? I’m an absolute fan of AI, ML, GenAI, whatever NextAI is, and all of the other technology “solutions” that are emanating like rain in a downpour. At the same time, we are NOT training our clinicians on how to effectively evaluate, adopt, train on, implement, utilize, and evaluate again the rapid evolutionary developments within the healthcare field. The healthcare professions – medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, social work, laboratory workers, etc. – need to be much more proactively educated, and training on the effective implementation and use of these tools are part of our armamentarium. And, we are not!! For the health of the country, this has got to change AND it will require a wholesale reconsideration of how, what, where and when we provide education on these tools and resources. But, I digress…

Anyway, those are just a few of the HEALTH CARE ISSUES that we need to be considering – not in the future but, now!! There have been prior revolutions: the Neolithic (which took 5,000 years) and the Industrial (which took two centuries) that caused massive disruptions in society. However, we are now at a pivot point with the latest revolution – the advent of the Digital (which will take only a couple of decades AND, we are only halfway through it). Now is the time to wake up, Consider the healthcare concerns that are embedded in these areas and figure out what we – as committed healthcare professionals – can do to mitigate the problems. Just consider it for a moment at least…

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