"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 all Americans. Improve and expand the ACA to work toward a universal coverage system. This is not necessarily mutually exclusive to capitalistic opportunities for those who wish to purchase private insurance above and beyond.
Procedure Costs : Create reasonable, standard costs for procedures throughout the industry, allowing for differences primarily upon regional cost factors such as cost of land and building space, material purchase and transport, and personnel. This would benefit rural areas especially as costs are often shown to be dramatically higher for identical procedures.
Ease Patient Referrals : Allow for patients to be referred to the doctors and specialists they need and want. Insurance and state borders should never 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.
National Access Records : If you have ever had to collect medical records, you know our current system is tedious at best. Sometimes, patients even die due to lack of efficient medical record access. I know because I've seen it.
We need to work swiftly to singularly house all patient medical records for patient ease, efficiency, and medical accuracy. Assist small and rural clinics with electronic transitions. Require credentialed sign-ins as related to HIPAA laws and provide patients easy access to their information via patient web portals. Reassure citizens that their privacy is fully protected while offering them 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 in the Emergency Room consisted of 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 graduate school, I simply didn't have the tens of 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 similar situations and firmly believe we should take all steps to ease such 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.
Treatment Access : Increase access to experimental treatments for those who are willing and wanting to participate. This is particularly useful in last-effort treatment options for those with terminal illnesses early in life. For some, it can mean life or death.
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 of the patient belongs to the patient.
Modern Health & Family Leave : Every citizen, regardless of gender, should be afforded three subsidized work sabbaticals of 12 weeks in length throughout their working career to be taken as desired. These sabbaticals should standardly be used as maternity or paternity leave, however in lieu of choosing to have biological children as many young persons today do, sabbaticals 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 need policy to protect our clinicians from frivolous lawsuits which only drive up the cost of healthcare and at times can result in unnecessary testing for patients.
Mental Healthcare : One's mental health is physical health. Insurances should cover 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, and STDs, pregnancy tests, and more.
Care Access : Healthcare should be provided easily and quickly in all settings, to all persons. We should work to improve access in rural areas, lower-income neighborhoods, in school settings, work settings, for the homeless, for veterans, 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... !)