Right Now

March 10, 2013

At this moment I think we may have it all upside down. By this I am probably thinking that perhaps it is all the pundits who foist opinions on the populous and believe that the people are totally unaware.

Is it unaware or is it not speaking up, or maybe not knowing what, how, where, when, and why to do so?  I know it is not Memorex.

In my memory though  it is this health care situation that has been a political football for decades now and the teams engaged in the sorcery don’t seem to be able to come up with a really good plan.

I can count the times I’ve told people over something like three decades or more just how much of a sick care system we have.  It was probably the laughing stock of many just like I was in the early 70s when I was explaining to neurologists the scientific theory behind the ability of nerve cells to regenerate.

Well now it seems to have happened.  All that futuristic thinking I espoused so long ago seems to be right up there on the main page of the news.

When I first saw this a few days back I was trying to pinch my skin to be sure I was really seeing the words, and dad gum’it, it was right on the mark.  Maybe I need to be Rip Van Winkle and go off on a 20 year nap after trying to enlighten folks.  I might have an easier time of it.  But then I don’t know if that now would make sense to very many people because they didn’t hear it from the mouths of the media talking heads. And those folks probably didn’t hear it from the FDA or the CDC, and you, I trust, know how this turns out. Maybe it’s that M.D. is missing in my already too long list of alphabet soup you can see listed after my name used for professional purposes only.

What I’ve been alluding to it this: Selling Sickness.  No longer is it just a phrase, it is an actual international conference.

As one writer put it, the first international  “Selling Sickness” Conference held October 7-8, 2010, in Amsterdam drew some 200 participants from around the globe to discuss the issues and trends in marketing of prescription drugs. While most attendees were from Europe, all regions of the world were represented at the event. Slide shows of the presentations, along with a list of attendees, may be viewed on the conference website.

Many conference presentations focused on the phenomena and techniques of promotion of “disease mongering”: use of pharma promotions to depict normal life issues as diseases and to encourage consumers to visit doctors to seek prescriptions to treat these disorders. 

The recent 2013 conference held in Washington DC this past February brought together academic scholars, healthcare reformers, consumer advocates and progressive health journalists to examine the global tide of disease mongering.

Conference will include topics pertaining to disease-mongering such as: misleading marketing; ethics in professional education; journalistic standards; social media; over-treatment; new models for drug development and testing; whistleblowers; new conflict of interest areas; health screening policies; impact on public health and pocketbook.

Certainly a great number of thought provoking topics, and at least some people are talking about it.  What remains to be the result of this is TBA.

While I hope the time frame of that TBA is sooner than later you might want to look at some related topics that play into this model.

Of course we already know that Big PhRMA got another hand out from the government with the Affordable Care Act.  This is just more marshmallow topping on that butterscotch sundae as a carryover from the Bush 2 crowd and the hug handouts that went quicker than lightening on the PhRMA and Big Insurance bank accounts.

But what do I know, right?

Now let’s take it a step further in theory and add in the idea of critical thinking.

Just after the very limited PR and coverage of “Selling Sickness 2013” an article was published on the Scientific American website discussing why it is necessary to teach critical thinking outside a classroom.

Simply put it needs to be outside the classroom after you get a chance to learn the basics  in school and then put the rubber to the road: Applying this to real life situations and learning from them, as well as perhaps  enhancing your model to achieve better outcomes the second time and in the future.

The next domino that fell on my tray – almost to the point that I felt it was a bit uncanny for all of this to appear so closely in formation fallout – is a great article about the Time magazine investigative report about the mysteries that go in inside hospitals.

“Bitter Pill” addresses some of the issues surrounding medical coding and billing, and quite a lot more in this in depth story.  Right now medical billing is moving over to what is termed ICD 10 and the word has it that people skilled in coding and billing for ICD 10 will be very hot commodities.

Maybe the coders and billers are hot but what about that person who is the recipient of all the excess care and expense?

ProPublica offers some great coverage on a closely aligned subject to get your grey cells in a tither titled “Dollars for Docs”.  This series of articles looks at how money in the health care industry reaches doctors.  How this can and does impact the kind of health care you get and probably some other really good ethical questions, like what it costs are examined.

I know I don’t expect everyone to go research all these articles and reports.  I do want to stress the point that it is perhaps more than wise to be aware of your surroundings if you are treading dangerously close to a snake pit.

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