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Fixin' Healthcare

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Unintended Consequences

I don't fault scientists for research on compounds to benefit health or the press for jumping the gun to report preliminary findings of scientific research. And I don't suppose I fault pharmaceutical companies for exploiting scientific research, I just wish they would discontinue advertising illness, disease and real or perceived health disorders. However, all of this influences the public mind-set to interfere with healthy behaviors and leads to unintended and dangerous consequences.

The experimental drug, SRT-1720, that prolongs the life of fat mice by reducing the amount of fat in the liver and thereby increasing the sensitivity to insulin may eventually lead to useful treatments. But I have come to fear the worst for the influence of the news upon the expectations of an obese society dependent upon drugs.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


The chief executive of Chrysler believes that new leadership from outside of Detroit is the deciding factor in the Big Three automakers' acceptance of strict new fuel economy standards. Certainly, every industry can benefit from new thinking to address what appears to be insoluble problems. Health care is a good example. Health in the U.S. is defined in terms of sickness and medical care dominates the field. Costs spiral out of control and health status declines. The idealogues in Congress and some economists don't help by staking out extreme positions to protect or cut sick care. The dialogue has to shift from sick care to achieving and maintaining optimum health status for individuals and the population. That has less to do with medical care than the politicians think or are willing to admit.

Social Cures

The cause of illness and preventing illness is often not a medical issue but the illness comes to reside in the medical arena. Primary prevention, as well as adequate treatment, of illness and disease is a social issue and calls for "social cures". It is encouraging to see projects such as Health Leads that address social cures by recruiting and training student volunteers to provide patients with connections to resources deemed necessary by doctors and other health care providers. In addition, many cities throughout the U.S. are mobilizing local organizations, corporations and institutions for health promotion, primary prevention and public health. With dedication and persistence the nation can reduce the need for medical care rather than arbitrarily reducing funds for Medicaid and Medicare. That is a positive approach with improved health status which cannot be achieved by pouring funds into medical care.