Health care’s problems encapsulated

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on several health care meets the internet stories, the first about a cardiology group where “cardiology patients can hop online to request prescription refills, check portions of their medical records or send questions about their conditions.”

Great, but get this:

Within a few years, the interventional cardiologist expects to be trading e-mails with patients and possibly holding real-time Web chats.

Within a few years?  Four words (“within a few years”) sum up health care’s issues.  The pace of change in health care is infuriating (speaking of years)…

On the positive side, much of the article is about American Well—especially their deal in Hawaii; also included is apt skepticism provided by old grumps.

An internet infusion at Mercy Medical Group provides a bit of traditional health care delivery hope:

The patients will be able see lab results, get information about X-rays and schedule appointments through an interactive calendar.

Patients can take a picture of a suspicious rash and send the image in an e-mail. Doctors can respond to an e-mail question about high cholesterol with links to health-related websites.

Surliness ceased…for now.

An illustrative example

Paul Levy had questions of the clinical efficacy of a new piece of equipment that other organizations have been purchasing.  His post today is a perfect illustration of health care rivalry, not competition:

Without making any representations about the relative clinical value of this robotic system versus manual laparoscopic surgery, I am writing to let you know we have decided to buy one for our hospital. Why? Well, in simple terms, because virtually all the academic medical centers and many community hospitals in the Boston area have bought one. Patients who are otherwise loyal to our hospital and our doctors are transferring their surgical treatments to other places. Prospective residents who are trying to decide where to have their surgical training look upon our lack of the robot as a deficit in our education program. Prospective physician recruits feel likewise. And, these factors are now spreading beyond urology into the field of gynecological surgery. So as a matter of good business planning, concern for the quality of our training program, and to continue to attract and retain the best possible doctors, the decision was made for us.

Treatment so fast you’ll freak

I listened to someone speak today while taking advantage of a provided lunch.  The lunch consisted of subs from Jimmy Johns.  The person said “Jimmy Johns is pretty cool, Subs so Fast You’ll Freak.”  Subs so Fast You’ll Freak is a marketing tagline used by the company.  The person continued, “Maybe hospitals should be ‘treatment so fast you’ll freak.'”  It was an off-the-cuff comment, but you know, thinking like this just might be our problem.