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For the Health Of It™©, Volume 2 #10: Patients Are the Stakeholders in and Providers of Their Own Health Care

Patients Are the Stakeholders in and Providers of Their Own Health Care

By Don McCormick

Many people claim to be health care providers, but few play that role.  Let us say who is not a health care provider so that we may cut to chase.  Insurers are not, they are trustees or just capitalists.  Hospitals are not, they are builders and maintenance people and would be capitalists. Pharmaceutical  and equipment manufacturers  are not, they are inventors and vendors and capitalist too.  People who study the art and science of medicine can be health care providers if the patients invite them to share their suffering and offer their advice and treatment.  The real health care provider is the patient, whether the care is taken in ignorance or with insight and good results.  The most knowledgeable person in the universe is a mere whirling dervish without the attention and understanding and actions of the patient.  This is true even before a medical problem is manifest and before any expert advice or treatment is sought.  Whatever is wrong with a person happens before the consultation and before the professional health care providers ever know what happened.  So, when we fix a broken health care system and we look for the stakeholders within that system it must be the patients and that is where we will begin.

We will need some empathy because it is among those people who are not yet suffering that the cure for afflicts us will be found.  It is among those who are temporarily able bodied that the mark of wisdom must be engraved.  We who make government possible can make government order things done in a general way and in ways that have little or nothing the do with what is possible and what patients actually do for themselves.  There is nothing of “Pollyanna” here.  Some patients will choose to die, some will choose to poison themselves over many years, and some will take good care of their bodies in spite of all of the negative influences and bad advice they may get.  What the fix will be is in the nature of man to see what is actually working to make someone else live well and then making the thoughts and actions of that person part of their life and their understanding. 

It is hard to be empathetic.  It is hard to even shed a tear for another person’s loss if it is not your own loss.  When you read the obituaries do you cry?  If you do, you will soon go insane because to be touched by every death you see would rob you of all vitality.   So, the empathy we need is in seeing ourselves in the place of the sufferer and that place is in the future.  It will be noble and wise to avoid that suffering and in doing so create a paradigm for health.  You are the healer, you own your body and you know what is in movement and in thought and in relationship to the people around you.  You also see what you don’t know and it is in that state that advisers and healers enter your personal space and share your thoughts and make empathy possible.

Gather the patients first.  These are the stakeholders in a health care system. Let them invite their professional advisers and healers.  Having trustees for money and buildings and suppliers of goods and services follows what patients want to fund.  If that is very little and very much,  it doesn’t matter.  It is the patient’s lives that count, not the other things.  We are all patients.  Buildings, machinery, supplies, chemicals, currency and  government are not patients, but expediencies. 



1 Comment

  1. Dr. Mike on May 15, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you, Don. We agree that the best and most cost effective Health Care for able bodied adults is self care. That takes care of a great majority of the need. Of course, back up for guidance and to get help for those things that require physician, other provider and institutional care must be available. Communities can make these things happen. Health Care on every level … Self Care, Family Care, Community Care, Environmental Care and quality definitive disease care can be made easily accessible to every Patient in every community. But that implies a willingness to take charge of your own Health and Health Care.
    During my early Family Medicine days, I found a small but significant percentage of patients who were willing to take the responsibility and the action required to take care of themselves and those in their charge. Generally, in the best of circumstances that boils down to a small percentage of the population. These are the folks for whom I wrote The Stress Management Workbook and with whom we worked to help preserve Health and Health Care at every level in that community. That is comprehensive care.
    That was then and this is now. Back then, I was their reliable family doc (I helped care for about 5000 patients) and I could, with confidence and with the help of a few good nurses, give them the best of care in our little 40 bed community hospital. We worked with the local population, local hospital and the State of Maine to set up a parenting and child protection program … many years before that sort of thing was fashionable. On the larger environmental level, the local physicians, working with the community and the State of Maine, helped keep a nuclear waste dump and a sludge dump out of the area as well. That model worked … efficiently, effectively and to the benefit of the patients, physicians other providers, hospital and the community at large. That is the way it is supposed to be.
    Now, big corporations have taken over The Business of Medicine … so that the money goes out of the community … while the quality and quantity of Care goes down.
    Time for all of us “Patients” to take it back. That’s the only way to put Health and Health Care back into the hands of the people who care.
    Dr. Mike



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