I like doctors. Let’s help them do what they do.

Yeah. These doctors are good people, at least the ones I know.

There are a lot of doctors in America. They’re in every available specialty. And I’ve interacted with a bunch of them lately, both for my family and personally.

I’m sure there are doctors who don’t know what they’re doing or don’t give a crap, but I don’t end up talking to them. All the ones I know are decent.

The ones I talk to work on Thanksgiving. They treat patients like people; they care. They call and check up on you. They even talk to each other to work out the best treatment.

It’s not just doctors. I like dietitians, physician’s assistants, nurses, and medical technicians. I like dentists. I like medical students — in my previous role as the CEO of health-related nonprofit, I got to meet with some of those, and they were amazing.

I even like the office people who work with the doctors, people who are usually trying very hard and are very patient.

I’m very thankful for all these folks.

This is not to say that I like our medical and health care “system” here in the United States. It sucks, it is hellishly expensive, and it interferes with care.

I don’t like arguing with insurance companies to deal with incomprehensible charges and denials for health insurance that I pay out of my own pocket, insurance that costs more and covers less every year.

I don’t like watching doctors and their army of helpers struggling with electronic health records systems and referrals when they could be spending that time on delivering care.

I don’t like filling out the same forms and telling a dozen different doctors and helpers the same answers to the same questions over and over again. It is demoralizing for people in difficult and stressful situations.

I am impatient with people who imagine that it is simple to solve these problems (including politicians). It’s not simple at all. There are a hundred competing interests here and a lot of money at stake, and in America, that means solving a messy problem is going to be messy and ugly.

Here’s what I’m not willing to compromise on.

I am not willing to accept a world where this problem is just “the way things are.” In America, we fix things that are broken. The environment was broken; we fixed it. The highway system was inefficient; we fixed it. I can drive through a tollbooth without stopping and my car tells me when I’m about to crash into the car in front of me. We’re pretty smart in this country; surely we can fix this, too.

I don’t want an ideal solution, but I’m unwilling to accept that it’s just the way it is.

I am not willing to accept a system that says we need to leave some people behind to heal the rest. Everyone the system fails is someone that is loved and valued by others. We need to help our fellow human beings to live.

I am not willing to accept that maintaining the current level of profit is the only way to solve these problems.

Doctors want to help people — I am so grateful for that. And facilities and medical innovators want to contribute and get compensated for doing so — that’s an excellent part of who we are. Science actually helps us make progress and learn more every year and every decade — I am so grateful for that as well.

Don’t tell me it’s unfixable, and there is no compromise that can work. We can do better. I demand it. You should, too.

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One Comment

  1. I am likewise grateful for thoughtful healthcare professionals. As with all occupations, we’ve come across those ill-suited to the delivery of care.

    We can do better as Americans. As with all necessary reforms (environmental, entitlements and, certainly, healthcare) leaders should engage thought leaders and propose multi-decade goals so we don’t abandon the best of what is working in favor of something with collateral damage. Perhaps, that is fantasy but I can dream.