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Becoming Proactive Takes Time, Energy, and Money

All three of these commodities feel very scarce in our rat race society. As a result, we devote most of our attention – and subsequently time, energy, and money – reacting to things that happen rather than proactively addressing issues before they become issues.

Thus, when I read articles and see the "successes" of the ACA providing Medicaid insurance to those who were previously uninsured, I cringe just a bit. Yes, I am very happy people are now getting care for their health concerns. But the cringing comes from the fact that had we been proactive as a society, many of those health concerns wouldn't exist.

Here are 3 quick examples in each of the three dimensions of medicine.

  1. Mental Health: A 55-year-old male with chronic paranoid schizophrenia runs out of his medications and when his hallucinations return, ends up at the psych ER with suicidal ideation.

  2. Medicine: A 30-year-old obese female who smokes a pack a day goes to the health clinic for shortness of breath.

  3. Surgical: A 65-year-old male undergoes a partial removal of his colon because he didn't get polyps removed as recommended 10 years ago because of cost and inconvenience.

While each case differs in the details, we can safely say that providing support (having a service coordinator for the paranoid schizophrenic that can check in on him), early education (teaching health and wellness in high school and incentivizing smoking cessation to the 30-year-old at a younger age), and acknowledgement of the importance of health (allowing time off from work by collaborating with employers and encouraging individual ownership of your health) are all possible if we have a more transparent and streamlined system.

It's hard to stop reacting and become proactive; I think it's because we hate the idea of "wasting" something we consider a precious commodity at the moment. But here's the sad truth: either we learn it now while there are still opportunities with the commodities we have, or we can learn it later when costs have soared, providers are completely disconnected from patients, and the "business" of medicine becomes all business and no medicine.

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