"The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease."
- William Osler
A National Healthcare System
The Goal : Affordable, quality health coverage for every American.
Procedure Costs : Improve cost transparency, with specific efforts to significantly reduce and standardize procedure costs throughout the industry. This would especially benefit rural areas as costs are often higher for identical procedures.
Prescription Costs : Improve cost transparency, and significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs to patients.
Ease Patient Referrals : Allow patients to easily be referred to the doctors and specialists they need. Insurance or state borders should not be prohibitive to obtaining necessary medical care.
Reduce & Better Treat Opioid Addiction & Substance Abuse : As with most topics, this concern needs to be addressed in multiple ways. A few options that are evidence-driven include:
A) Better monitoring of opioid prescriptions across state & pharmacy databases (e.g. Currently, not all states have access to other state prescription records, or access between pharmacies, meaning it is possible for persons to seek drugs well over the prescribed amount),
B) The ability to treat with both medications and therapy (currently affected by limitations in doctors who can prescribe and to how many patients),
C) Provide incentives for medical programs and boards to require more substance abuse training. Could be stimulated through additional NIH / NIMH grants and fellowships, and
D) Better treatment & recovery options for the incarcerated population dependent on drugs.
Information Security and Privacy : Your information should remain strictly between you and your care team at all times, and is of the utmost importance. Any policy proposals created would hold this value highly.
National Record Access : If you have ever had to collect medical records, you know our current system is beyond cumbersome. Sometimes, patients even die due to lack of efficient medical record access. I know because I've seen it.
Doctors must have systems with ready access to patient medical records for patient ease, efficiency, and medical accuracy. Assistance to small and rural clinics with electronic transitions may be necessary. Any changes to systems should continue to require credentialed sign-ins for care providers as related to HIPAA laws, and newly, provide patients easy access to their information via patient web portals. This comes with both information security and the guarantee of the best treatment in the event of emergencies and chronic care needs. Being sick is stressful enough, we should not add heaps of inefficient paperwork to a dire moment.
Personal Note: In my mid twenties I was a passenger in a car accident. My first worries while I lay on a stretcher from the ambulance to the Emergency Department were realizing the hospital not knowing basic things like my blood type and medical history, as well as the financial and insurance burdens I knew I would be undertaking. As a middle-class American just out of school, I simply didn't have the thousands of extra dollars I knew it would cost. This sort of worry only adds to the stress of injury and for many can delay recovery. I personally empathize with those who have experienced these situations and firmly believe we should take steps to ease the burdens.
Eliminate Insurance Discrimination : Insurance companies should never be allowed to discriminate against persons for their healthcare coverage based upon existing conditions, age, gender, genetic testing, or other qualifiers. Period.
Healthcare Access : Healthcare should be provided easily and quickly in all settings, to all persons. We should work to improve access to care especially in rural areas, lower-income neighborhoods, school settings, work settings, for the homeless, for veterans, for women, for children, and more.
Note: Did you know that currently there are places in Colorado where the closest OB-GYN is 4-5 hours away? Some hospitals can no longer afford birthing centers and care staff at all, which places women and their child at increased risk.
Treatment Access : Continue to ease access to experimental treatments for those who are willing and wanting to participate while upholding scientific rigor. This is particularly useful in last-effort treatment options for those with terminal illnesses early in life.
End of Life : Increase access to "Death with Dignity" laws for terminally ill patients. Every person should have the right to stay in their home during these difficult times.
Right to Patient Information : Work to ease access to laboratory test results, genetic information, imaging copies, research results, and more. Health information belongs to the patient as well. Modernizing our systems to contain a dual interface (clinical and patient portals) will assist with this transition.
Modern Health & Family Leave : Every citizen, regardless of gender, should have access to health and family leave without worry of losing their job. This would primarily be for personal healthcare needs, but may be used for other reasonable health or family related interests such as adoption, fostering, or assisting family members.
Opt-out Organ Donation : Organ donation saves lives. Instead of an opt-in donation program as we currently have, we should encourage a national standard to save lives and contribute back to society, even after life. Of course, anyone not wishing to participate for religious or other reasons may simply opt-out.
Reduce Frivolous Malpractice Lawsuits : Clinicians should always be held accountable for their mistakes, but we also need to protect our clinicians from frivolous lawsuits.
Mental Healthcare : Mental health IS physical health. Insurance should cover extended counseling and treatment programs for those in need, including common personal life needs such as individual, marriage, or bereavement counseling. We should also work to provide much better institutional options for the mentally ill as currently many end up in jails, on the streets, or without the specialized care they need.
Preventative Care : Work to improve access and education to all preventative care such as genetic screening at birth, immunizations, and simple biological checks such as cholesterol, blood pressure, STDs, pregnancy tests, and more.
Eye and Dental Healthcare : One insurance plan should cover all physical needs and screening. Eyes and teeth are physical needs! I, for one, am eyeing 2020... ;)