Health Care Summit Report
Here is my report regarding the Health Care Summit held at Mountain View’s Computer History Museum about which I facebooked. First of all, there’s something that all of you should know about most of us physicians. My colleague friends and I love taking care of people and thrive on the human interaction. That desire to help our fellow man really fuels us to wake up day in and day out to continue hearing patient “complaints” and attempting to help. We relish the relationship based on and built upon trust and honesty. We value the special very private relationship between physician and patient. Our chosen specialty and how we can use our knowledge and skill truly is a privilege, period. So, that being said, all of us agree that we wish everyone to have health care. But, the big issue, as is always the issue, is money.
The stars of the Health Care Summit were: Diana Dooley, Secretary of California Health and Human Services Agency; Dr. Richard Slavin, CEO of Palo Alto Medical Foundation; Paul Markovich, President and COO of Blue Shield of California; Chris Boyd, Senior Vice President and area manager of Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, and; Amir Dan Rubin, President and CEO of Stanford Hospital and Clinics. Each hospital and medical business had representative administrators distributed in placard labeled tables. It really was very nice to see some of my friends whom I haven’t seen in quite a while. But, how many private practice doctors attended? Now, I know a lot of people but not the world; so, from what I could tell, I didn’t see many (if any). What followed was an open forum by the aforementioned parties about their take on the ambiguous future of health care. The recurring theme was the two main issues: access to health care and money. Each speaker discussed his/her viewpoint and demonstrated how his/her organization represents supported views. Each speaker demonstrated a well thought out and meaningful goal in the uncertain arena. One speaker talked about using value based medicine and studying trends that will help reduce future cost. I found it very interesting but the comments drew me into a reverie of how much things have changed from my medical school days. Back in the early 90’s in an effort to practice “defensive medicine” as students we were taught and directed to draw frequent labs and order tests. We would often curse under our breath our mentors who made us draw blood levels to document health status (I’m way oversimplifying this!). Of course, often tests would return normal; but, it was documented!! Things have certainly done a 180 as we can’t even get half of our surgeries, tests or opinions authorized by insurance. How things have changed. My concern, and most of the publics’, is what is going to happen to that personalized care that we provide? I don’t know if that was addressed at the summit because I had to leave early. I had patients in my office to see.