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What could be a revolution in health care for 2010?

healthI think we need to change from being a passive consumer society when it comes to health care to being an active consumer society. Our health care model now is based on waiting until a person is sick or injured and then going to a health care provider to be fixed. This is not realistic and more expensive. This only works in the case of acute illness or accident. How could the system change?

It can first of all change on the individual level. We can take responsibility for our own health. Prevention and education is important. Knowledge is power. We each of us needs to know our risk factors for disease and take steps to lessen them. If we have a chronic disease we need to understand how to best manage it. The obvious for all of us is exercise and nutrition. We would not put the wrong fuel in my gas tank but we sometimes are thoughtless about what goes into our bodies. Most people do not even drink enough water.

Record keeping and coordinating of medical care. As individuals we can keep a record from all our doctors. I grew up in a Navy family I had one medical record I kept with me and took to all appointments for over twenty years. I try to do this now. I also keep a list of all medical providers, conditions I have, medications, and emergency contacts in my wallet. I also have a list of conditions, surgeries and medications I have been on in the past for new doctors.

I try to understand each condition I have so that I can manage it. I realize that even when a medication is expensive it is less expensive than not taking it and ending up needing more expensive care such as hospitalization if I do not take it. My goal with three chronic illness is to stay away from the ER, hospitals, and to keep doctors visits to a minimum. My pharmaceuticals which with copays are hundreds a month help me with that goal.

How could the government, health insurance companies, and health care providers change us to an active consumer society? First they need to realize it is less expensive to provide prevention, education, and chronic disease management, including expensive pharmaceuticals, than it is to wait until the patient is really sick. Now the system spends most of its resources when the individual has not had prevention, education, and disease management and ends up in the ER or hospital. Also having coordination of care would be beneficial. Even with in a medical system communication breaks down. We need to update technology. There is a lot of needless redundancy. I have a hard time getting medical records transferred between providers. What if you are in accident and unconscious? It takes time to get a medical history. Electronic records which could be retrieved by an ambulance or ER with medical conditions, medications, allergies could save your life.

I take responsibility for my wellness. I keep records up to date. I make sure all my providers know what treatments and medications I am on. I take my medications as prescribed. I take responsibility for dieting and fitness. I educate myself on all my conditions. I even have written treatment plans I can look at  to see what steps I need to take in any situation. By doing all the above I have kept my health care costs to a minimum and avoided hospitalization with three severe chronic illnesses. I still spend 40% of our income on health care, but it could be worse.

Wishing you a healthier 2010.

3 Comments

  1. Lenny

    January 7, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Use a personal health records service. Find one that allows you to manage all your records yet lets emergency responders access to medical information they need to see without going through all your history. I use http://www.accessmyrecords.com and found it simple to use and effective. It is web based so my records can be accessed or updated from any computer. They even have a 24/7 customer service center that will help you update information if you don’t have a computer. I have been using this service for 4 years now and it have helped me out a few times.

  2. IBXer

    January 7, 2010 at 10:51 am

    This sounds nice and all, but how exactly do you propose this happen? The only way to really make the things happen that you suggest is to move toward consumer driven healthcare. People have to start paying for the services they receive instead of having someone else pay for their care. If people are not aware of and responsible for the cost of their own bad choices, they will continue to make them and pass the cost to others.

    People on the left say they want people to be more responsible but then destroy every incentive to do so. It is pure idiocy.

    Are you going to mandate people eat only food you approve of? Are you going to mandate daily exercise routines? Are you going to mandate classes on personal hygiene?

  3. Lenny

    January 7, 2010 at 11:06 am

    IBXer
    All your comments are true, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it, yet when the horse dies of thurst whos fault is it?

    If we don’t educate the consumer now and show them why they need to take some responsibility in managing simple healthcare information and how it could save lives or lower some cost of healthcare insurance, then we are no better than the next guy looking for a hand out and blaming someone else for his misfortune.