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Out of Our Minds
Thursday, August 19, 2004 1:29 PM
Calling the Best and Brightest
Kevin Salwen on Health & Wellness

About five years ago, Internet users complained that there was virtually no reasonable way to navigate the Web. It's like the largest library in the world as arranged by a three-year-old, one writer said. Enter Google and other brilliantly crafted means to search. Suddenly, we have order amid chaos.

Now, it's time for the next Sergey Brin or Larry Page to step up -- but this go-round, it's all about health care. We are in deep crisis with our medical care and the effect is reaching further and further into every walk of life. Doctors hate their jobs, insurers and lawyers dictate the quality of care, people can't get the healing they need (If I am told to see one more 'physician's assistant' instead of my doctor, I'm going to scream).

As further evidence, today's New York Times reports that the rising cost of health care 'has become a significant factor in the employment slump... with many businesses reluctant to hire full-time employees because health insurance, which now costs the nation's employers an average of about $3,000 a year for each worker, has become one of the fastest-growing costs for companies.'

This must be fixed. Usually, I don't post something when I have no ideas of how to solve it. But I'm stumped here. Best, brightest, are you out there?


dan phillips - 8/25/2004 11:33:24 AM
Imagine a future where every treatment comes with an education and communication package sent straight to a patient’s phone or to a communication device of their choice.

The package links to their doctor and community of care (family, friends, other people suffering from the same illness in their area) and the information that the patient receives is based on their current state of mind.

in fact, don't imagine it: we have built this service already.
Will Pate - 8/20/2004 2:21:37 PM
Hey Dave, thanks for the feedback.

Moderator was a poor word choice on my part, what I meant was someone that person would be the expert blogger. They shouldn't moderate, rather they should be the most active participants in the conversation and give expert advice. They might have to do some myth dispelling duties, but I agree that full freedom of speech is the only way to go.

Think of it as Metafilter crossed Worthwile. Everyone gets the same screen space and the best ideas float to the top.
Kent - 8/20/2004 10:35:59 AM
The high cost of health insurance is not only a drag on employment, it's also a drag on entrepreneurship.

There are lots of folks who feel trapped in their current jobs because they don't want to lose their health benefits. They'd be willing to take a cut in pay to pursue a new venture, but they're not willing to put themselves or their families at risk by going it alone on health insurance.

Individual policies cost too much, and may not give you the care you need, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. Health savings accounts may help some people, but they're not the solution for many others.

The only solution that works is not very entrepreneurial -- a single-payer system funded by tax dollars. Medicare for everybody, in other words. It's not pretty; it's politically unpopular. But at least it would get employers out of the business of providing social welfare.
Dave - 8/20/2004 6:29:27 AM
Will, while I might well agree that the 'medium' we call the internet can be a source of help in this case, I almost laughed when I read your comments - because of your use of the term 'blog'.

The internet provides quite a few things that didn't exist or were nearly non-existant 20 years ago... it made the world a much smaller place.

Blogs? While a new means of 'expression', it is definitely not a new 'medium'. They are typically one way forms of communication. They are typically controlled by one person - or at least, centrally controlled.

Even THIS very, um, worthwhile (pun intended) blog is not a forum for brainstorming because of the limitations of blogs.

Yes, it builds a community, but a rather autocratic one.

What made me almost laugh was nothing personal - just how I feel sometimes an idea (blogs) can be pushed way too far. JMHO, and meant with respect Will.

Now, if you were to talk about building REAL communities where people could freely (read: unmoderated) speak about today's health issues....
Will Pate - 8/19/2004 11:11:05 PM
Public blog communities with an expert moderator and anonymity for members. Find an expert on diabetes, pay them to blog and answer questions every weekday about what it's like to live with diabetes. Interview other experts and invite guest bloggers with complimentary knowledge.

Give each member a journal to write about their experience and what they're learning, so that others reading don't feel alone. It's amazing the bonding that can happen in self-recovery groups, if people feel their identities are safe.

Turn it into an insurance racket and make anyone that wants in participate in their own health. Health insurance for people that are willing to try to be healthy. There's one flat fee for everyone, but you've got to play ball to be on the team.

Smoker like me? Well you have to read and participate in the smokers group blog. Eventually you'll learn to manage your smoking and read about so many people who's lives have been ruined that you'll want to quit. Maybe you'll even find a quit buddy that can help you along.

Or partner with existing insurance companies, with the idea that people who engage in health blogging do better over a lifetime than those who don't.

Note: many of these ideas were formed during conversations, and thus much of their credit belongs to Robert Paterson.


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