A Whimsical And Illustrative, If Impractical, Approach To Solving Our Health Care Crisis

It has always been the view of many Americans that Obama Care and the politicians that wrote the voluminous and unreadable 2000+ page legislation got it all wrong. They assumed that the problem was escalating health care costs and then wrote legislation to treat this symptom, not the underlying root causes. High costs are an outcome because of other factors.

It is as if the political class is treating a cough but do not understand whether the cough is caused by allergies, the flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, cancer, strep throat, etc. Unless you know what the underlying disease is, if you treat only the symptom, in this case high and escalating health care costs, the chances of success are quite low.

If you look at the literature on the health state of most Americans, you find a consistent pattern:

  • Americans smoke too much.
  • Americans eat too much.
  • Americans eat too much of the wrong kind of foods.
  • Americans do not get enough exercise.
  • Americans in general are getting older.

The first four items in this list are modifiable behaviors. They are the key to getting health care costs under control. Obama, Reid, Pelosi, et al never understood this. They raised taxes and implemented new taxes and fees, they created an untold number of new government agencies, they will criminalize millions of Americans for not bowing down to Obama Care and buying mandatory health insurance for themselves, etc. They treated the symptom of high health care costs as a tax, control, and bureaucracy problem, not a behavior and aging problem. Their chances of success are very small, assuming the legislation ever gets fully implemented and is not declared unconstitutional.

They also did not understand that forcing a human being to do something is never the best way to get something done. If you can make someone want to and like to do something from a behavior perspective, they are 1) more likely to do it, 2 ) do it with more conviction and 3) do it for a longer period of time. Forcing an American to do anything just gets their ire up and robs them of the freedom of choice, something a government should rarely, if ever, do in a democracy.

This is where some creativity and originality may have been a much better approach, in conjunction with modifying behavior relative to good health habits. We got none of this creative thinking from those in charge of Obama Care, it was the same old overbearing, freedom robbing, inefficient government control approach.

Maybe they should have considered what some creative engineers came up with in Odenplan, Sweden. The engineers did a makeover to a set of public stairs, stairs that were next to an escalator. Prior to the stairs’ makeover, the overwhelming percentage of travelers took the escalator to get up to street level, very few took the 20-30 stairs up. The engineers transformed the stairs into a simulated piano keyboard, with both black and white keys. When someone now steps on the stairs, a piano note is generated so that by walking up the stairs it is as if you are playing the piano.

After the installation of the musical steps were completed, the majority of travelers opted for the keyboard stairs and not the easier escalator. The usage of the steps increased 66%. Using the steps is obviously a better health option but a healthier option that people chose of their own free will, not one forced on them.

If Obama, Reid, and Pelosi were in charge of the situation, they would have shut down the escalator, forced people to use the stairs, written a 2,000 page manual on the proper way to use steps and charged citizens a fee to do so. The stairs would not make any sound since the government bureaucracy in charge of implementing the musical stairs would have been bogged down in red tape and never got around to the job

Now, is it feasible to convert every set of steps in the country to musical steps? Obviously not. However, in a whimsical sort of way it would be cool to do so. Americans would gladly use the musical steps even though it was healthier for them, they would still be free to chose but by using some creativity, the right behavior would occur without new government regulations, without a loss of freedom, without coercion, and without new taxes.

This would have been such a refreshingly new approach, guide, not force people to the right behavior to address and eliminate the underlying causes of high health care costs. If you reduce the demand for health care services because of musical steps or other innovative behavior modification, simple economics would drive down the costs, assuming the supply of medical services was constant.

That is why when you correctly view the issue of high health care costs as a behavior modification issue and not a government bureaucracy and tax issue you see that the solution should be executed from a public health viewpoint. How can you find a way to make good health behavior the right and freely chosen behavior to do? That would have been the creative, innovative, and liberty-wise right approach. It is not the type of behavior we can expect from our political class. We have not had our political class solve any issue from a creative, innovative, or freedom perspective for a very long time.

A possible creative approach might to put together a panel of very smart Americans, sans politicians and lobbyists, in the mode of the successful Manhattan Project, the Apollo space program, the Military Base Closing Commission, and the Grace Commission on reducing government costs. Let the experts go about defining the true underlying causes to the problem and let the smart members of the panel come up with piano steps-like public health initiatives that modify behavior, address the underlying root causes, allow us to not lose our freedom of choice, not create mega-new bureaucracies, and not waste our tax dollars.

Now, as mentioned above, even if you modify all of the bad American eating and exercising habits, you are still left with the simple fact that Americans are getting older and in all likelihood will need more health care. That is why we need to funnel into and focus resources on solving some of the biggest cancer killers of our time and vigorously attack the problem of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These are the health care cost causers that will cripple the nation’s financial viability unless we can find a way to solve these health issues.

Over time, better eating and exercise habits might mitigate the cancer and Alzheimer’s impact but that would happen down the road. With thousands of Baby Boomers turning 65 every day, we must find a way to attack and conquer these diseases to mitigate the impact on health care costs. Obama Care does not make this approach a priority, which is a shame because if you do not solve this disease factor, it does not matter what you do from a taxation, government control, and bureaucracy perspective. The sheer number of Baby Boomers will overwhelm the system from a cancer and dementia perspective.

Thus, as you go through your day, think about using the stairs once in a while and imagine a piano playing every time you take a step. It will invigorate your body with the healthy stair option and maybe invigorate your mind, possibly staving off dementia, if you can imagine the piano steps playing a song as you go up. This will certainly make a bigger contribution to a healthy America than anything in the Obama Care legislation.

As the video says, “Fun can obviously change behavior for the better.”

Online Training Options for Health Care Careers

The amount of medical services needed in the United States opens many possible career choices for students. The health care field requires numerous professionals to carry out specific duties within a community or inside a hospital. Students are able to enter a career in health care by choosing to complete education through an online school.

There are many avenues that can be taken when students decide to enter a distance learning school for the health care profession. Career training can be pursued in areas like health education, health information technology, public health, and more. Students should research the health care field to decide on the right educational program that will facilitate the best learning for their career goals. Some degree and career options available through online study may include:

*Health Education

Working to inform others how to gain a healthy lifestyle can be pursued from an associate to doctoral level of education. Training prepares students to understand diseases, health issues, and wellness practices thoroughly so they can help others reach good health. Tobacco use, teenage pregnancy, nutrition, physical fitness, and community health are subjects explored inside an online program. Becoming a health educator on these issues and much more is possible upon graduation of a concentrated program.

*Health Information Technology

The medical history of patients is extremely important. When completing education students learn how to ensure all information is accurate by understanding the field and its technology. Online schools provide degree opportunities at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree level. Students can expect to study medical terminology, data analysis, anatomy, information management, health insurance information, billing, and coding. The examinations of these different topics prepare students to step into the workplace as health information technicians.

*Physician Assistant

Professionals work to conduct a variety of tasks from recording patient histories to casting broken bones. The standard educational requirement is having a bachelor’s degree before entering a training program. Most online colleges provide a graduate training at the master’s degree level. Students should expect to take online classes in pharmacology, biochemistry, pathology, and internal medicine. Programs require a hands-on experience course where students visit a hospital located in their hometown and work with physicians and their patients. Some colleges offer associates and bachelors degree programs.

*Public Health

Many career options are available to students that seek education in public health. Administrative duties and procedures for health related practices are studied inside a degree program. This can include working with homeless and foster care children. Students learn about community health, environmental health, promoting wellness, and more. Online colleges provide training through undergraduate study and graduate-level degrees.

Health care is a broad field that allows students to follow their passion into a satisfying career. Accredited online colleges provide several educational options to train students to become health educators and health care workers. Full accreditation is provided to quality educational programs by agencies like the Distance Education and Training Council ( http://www.detc.org ). Students can begin education when they’re ready by exploring the different available options.

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.

Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved by PETAP.org.

The Health Care Evolution – Ten Trends That Can Revitalize Nursing

Nurses are at the forefront of an evolutionary wave in health care. Whether we take leadership or not will determine nursing’s future.

These ten trends can revitalize nursing if nurses break free from the confines of the medical model and use their education and skills to become wave riders.

1. Aging Boomers
Boomers are living longer. Quantity of life is driving a desire for better quality of life. This generation wants to learn how to stay vital, mobile, healthy and productive. They are looking for guidance in health promotion and wellness, not only disease prevention and treatment.

2. A 2nd Boom
Boomers Grandchildren are driving a huge demand for family health information and support for new and working moms. From birthing to family health education and sick child care, family systems need and want professional advice and innovative strategies to raise a brighter, stronger next generation.

3. Information explosion
Internet access provides health consumers with tons of information, but not the knowledge or wisdom to know how to use it without getting confused. They need knowledgeable health professionals as gatekeepers, trusted advisors, or health system navigators.

4. Holism
People are increasingly spending out of pocket dollars for alternative and complementary health care. Nursing education focuses on systems, whole person, life cycle perspectives that can guide in selecting appropriate options along a continuum of care.

5. Consumer driven health care
As consumers rely less on employer health coverage and more on personal health spending, they are seeking innovative and home based solutions for care including advanced home monitoring, telephone consultation, personalized care, and individualized treatment.

6. High Tech – High Touch
The need for personal connection, listening, and caring has never been higher. Nurses consistently rank first in every consumer poll for most trusted professional.

7. Shortages and Cost Containment
Professional shortages and a drive to contain costs, creates a push to use mid-level and low-level providers for technical care. Nurses will continue to be driven away from the institutional bed side. With decreasing numbers of people in institutional care, face to face professional health care will be delivered in the home and community.

8. Accessibility
Health information and care will be delivered on a global, mobile, remote, phone and internet basis. Nursing phone advice lines are increasingly popular with consumers.

9. Back to Basics
With increased interest in information and coaching on proper food and nutrition, supplements, stretching, meditation, simplicity, life balance, joy in work, and relationships wellness and health coaching is a growing field.

10. Self-Care/Self-Responsibility
People are realizing that doctors, medication and illness care are not going to keep them well. Employers, third party payers and common sense are driving consumers to take health care into their own hands. This trend will continue to drive an increase in self care information and reduction in in-patient and long term care.

Tomorrow’s nurses are not working under a doctor’s direction, or in an institution. To remain viable, nursing will have to think beyond the institutional medical care box.

Consumers are desperate for professional nurses to fill the need for proactive community
and home based health care.

Tomorrow’s nurses will be innovative community health leaders, who develop and deliver services directly meeting the changing needs of health consumers.

Progressive, professional nurses will form cooperatives, and creative health delivery systems that support families throughout the life span. They will provide continuity of health information and care while supporting people to navigate an ever more specialized and complex techno-medical system.

Grab A Board – Surfs Up!

© Aila Accad, RN