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.