Sunday, December 05, 2010

Don't you Wish your Doctor was Hot, Like Me?

If I catch whichever low-down, mud-wriggling, borderline-psychotic, ADHD individual it is that is leaving fliers for the LRT tucked under my windshield wipers while I am parked in the LRT parking lot, I will do things to them that will make bystanders uncomfortable, and possibly pull out their cellphones, fingers poised over the police complaint line.

Health care. You just haven't heard enough about Alberta's health care, have you? It might never be enough. The latest avenue for discussion is about how health-care workers are trained to tell us citizens how to live healthy, while many seem to not bother following their own advice with regards to stress, nutrition, sleep, and indulgences. Three things immediately leap to mind upon evaluating this reality:

One, our society seems obsessed with sussing out "hypocrites", or people that tell other people how to do something while not doing so themselves, the whole "do as I say, not as I do". I have long advocated that there isn't anything wrong with this lifestyle. Good advice is good advice regardless where it came from, and if it is from a person struggling with the same issue, perhaps it is good advice that is not tailored to the advice giver's particular situation. Perhaps they don't value the elimination of the problem in the same way the advice seeker does, or they feel that the advice-seeker is in a better position to implement the advice. There is nothing inherently bad in the fact of hypocrisy, it has just gotten a bum-rap. I think if we could harness its power, it would allow us to spread advice better without judging the source it came from.

Rebuttal: If the advice can't even work for the person giving it, even if the reason is because they cannot find the motivation, then there is obviously something flawed in the advice if it cannot even motivate the person who finds it useful enough to pass on. The "goodness" of things are usually assessed by their ability to perform their function (Thanks, Plato!) so if the advice offered is unachievable, it is then, by definition, not good advice. his raises larger questions about the fitness of our health-care paradigm, i.e. shouldn't good health be motivating enough?

Two, From my near-categorical knowledge of the study of Scrubs and House M.D, I feel qualified to point out that few other professions live the hectic, over-worked lives of health-care professionals, so advice that may be impractical for their own lives could still work for ours. A better examination would be into why the hell our system has gotten to a point where health-care people can't take better care of themselves because we're working them into the ground, but that doesn't carry the same schadenfreudic shiver to it.

Rebuttal: Again, it's about the quality of the advice and commitment of the individual. It doesn't take much to ensure good health, and it should really be a priority in everyone's life.

Three, The main problem with our health-care system is bigger than we can really imagine right now. The problem is rooted deeply in how ingrained capitalism is within our culture. The overarching "good", the highest right in capitalism is profit and over the years we've gotten really good at maximizing that. We've formed whole disciplines around the study of how people react to profit and incentive, motivation and manipulation. When it comes to the health-care system, however, we cannot run it like a business; the primary aim of hospitals and such should be the continuing good health and welfare of its patients, and that is just not fiscally feasible. We know so little about the health motivations of most people, they are so wild-card in their actions with regards to health, that any predictions we make are heavily dependent on the environment, situation and actors, which doesn't do us much good for establishing policies. All in all, we are not currently equipped to maintain the kind of paradigm necessary for a national health-care system where the main "product" is healthy people.

Shut your cake-hole.

There you have it. Why you should not care if the doctor telling you to cut down on cholesterol is larger than some "used-to-be-a-planet" objects whizzing around in space. Ultimately it comes down to the same thing everything does; personal responsibility. Yes, maybe the doctor is telling you to eat healthier while he waters the lawn of your face with crumbs from the Twinkies he just snagged, but don't you want the best for your body? Man up, and do what's right.


Anonymous said...

For profit healthcare is one of those Reaganesque Neo-con(Artist) ideas. It's stupis, makes no sense and is sold as part of other stupidity, like how most conservatives will tell you Reagan was a great president, reduced the debt (tripled it! more even) and how he shrunk government (by more than doubling it's size).

I've worked in a ssatalite industry of our healthcare system, and know far more about how doctors get paid than I am comfortable with. It's one of the biggest reasons I don't trust them. The system is deigned to be abused with unnecessary tests, procedures and consultations with no financial incentive to keep patients healthy. Doctors are granted a godlike status and nurses are relegated to the same levels as janitorial staff. Differant skill sets, diffferant jobs. Both essential.

I really could go on about this for hours, but then this is your blog, not mine.

Michelle Ernst said...

That's what you get for electing an Actor to your White House.

I think I'd disagree with the "god-like" status of Doctors, and whether or not Nurses are treated like janitorial staff (plus there's nothing dishonorable in cleaning, it too is an essential job), but my views on the interaction between health-care staff are outlined on the previous post, if you'd like to wander on over.

I love that this is my blog. I notice you don't link to yours...

Anonymous said...

For-profit health care, unfortunately, can't even get debated in Canada because as soon as someone in power mentions anything that sniffs of it, their opponents jump up and down on their chairs like howler monkeys, screaming and pointing their fingers.

The end problem is that this situation may cause us to just dabble our toes in for-profit, guaranteeing its failure.

The success of any for-profit venture should ultimately rest on exactly what you're talking about: the health of the people it serves. But for a true measure of how it does vs. the public system, we have to have checks and balances in place to ensure that the people it serves are the same as the public system; ie: not only the rich get to use it or those without chronic health issues, etc.

If people are truly free to use whatever facility they want, then the success of any entity in the for-profit system will depend on how good of a job they do because if they get a bad reputation no one will use them.

There have to be enough facilities in place that people can make choices based on something other than which is the closest or the least busy.

The for-profit entity has to have enough leeway to operate that they can offer things that will attract high-quality workers, like on-site daycare, job-sharing, etc. Maybe the pay has to be based, not on how many people they can rush through in a day and whether they order lots of (or very few) tests but simply on the time they put in. Maybe their wages are based on the time they put in times a multiplier based on patient ratings of their skills.

Anyhow, its obviously not a small change that one can successfully make by just tinkering. It would take lots of thoughtful discussion to come up with a good plan and thoughtful discussion is the one thing that we seem to be never able to pull off.