It’s time to get real about health care in America. As a nation we are spending way more than we need. And, for what we spend, we get a product that is inferior to that of other industrialized nations. Why is this so?
At first glance it would appear that our quality and outcomes should be getting better as the number of procedures and surgeries increase. But, it is not. A major reason is due to technophysicians, a pejorative I have hung on those physicians who substitute avarice for altruism and have taken advantage of the bifurcation of science and technology, prostituting the use of technology for personal gain. I talk about how this happened and is happening in my new book Reinvent the Heal, but suffice it to say that simply being able to successfully complete a procedure has trumped case selection and honesty.
Technophysician behavior accounts for a significant portion of the $3 trillion health care price tag, an amount that is closing in on 20% of the gross national product. We have Cartesian dualism to thank for this mess, paving the way for a complete victory of the scientific method and leaving spiritualism in the dust.
The task at hand is to allow a rebirth of spiritualism as a full partner with the scientific method and a solution to this health care debacle. A political solution will not help. Politicians can certainly ration care, control costs, and improve access to health care, but not quality health care. The operative word here is quality. The only persons in a position to make a difference are physicians and, to say the least, they have been lethargic. This needs to change and it will if there is a concerted effort by our citizens to hold physician’s feet to the fire. It will take some time for the study of spiritualism to be fully inculcated into the medical education curriculum. But it needs to happen.
Physicians without emotional ballast are at a major disadvantage when making decisions about a patient’s welfare. Without a spiritual connection, all of us, including physicians, are sorely limited in how much we can actually control. The power that derives from that spiritual connection makes the business of doctoring much more effective, with enhanced quality, altruism, empathy and improved outcomes. When we confine ourselves to self-will only, we end up in an inexorable and futile battle with the universe and its earthly constituents. A spiritual connection is not confined to any particular religion, sect or belief system. It is immediately available when we subordinate ourselves to that universal reality.
All of us, but most importantly doctors, need help in making this happen. It is imperative that the health care industry understands this and that steps are immediately taken to rectify the situation. This is my goal, to turn patients, past, present, and future into activists, demanding more from this rudderless health care industry. This make take some time, but infusing the tools for a spiritual connection in to the medical school experience, including premedical years, residencies and fellowships, as well as continuous post graduate medical education, is a must. Physicians should be rewarded with framed attestations that they were involved so that we patients can make careful choices.