First off, let me wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving! Things have certainly changed since the Pilgrims first gathered for that historic celebration. We’ve gone from horses to smart cars, candlelight to energy-efficient light bulbs and hitching-post stores to mega malls. Healthcare has been no stranger to change either. We’ve come a long way baby!
Illnesses that once were treated with ‘bleeding’, or really, just guess work, are treated with proven scientific evidence. Now when you need an operation, you go to a surgeon; your barber just doesn’t cut it anymore (no pun intended). Centuries ago there were approximately 100 known medicines. Now, thanks to all of the medical advances, there are 13,000 drugs in our pharmacopoeia. In 1849, there was one woman doctor that had graduated from medical school, today women make up half of the class. Prior to vaccines, there were epidemics. As late as the 1970’s ‘exploratory surgery’ was necessary to diagnose some cancers—surgeries that have been virtually replaced with the progresses made in ultrasound, CT, MRI and PET scans. Given all these medical advances, is it any surprise today’s life expectancy is 78 compared to a Pilgrim’s 35?
Good Things About Our Healthcare System
So, while the majority of the ‘talking heads’ continue to point out what’s wrong with our system, I’d like to take a reflective moment and point out what’s right about our system and things we should all be thankful for. Here are some of the things I am particularly grateful for:
- We are addressing life-time caps for healthcare services and pre-existing conditions.
- Healthcare is front and center in the political debate.
- We are leveraging technology with the advancement of electronic healthcare records.
- The American spirit and the passion driven individuals that keep moving us forward with medical innovation and advancements.
Yes, we have come a long way baby. I’m all for critical appraisal, but while we are striving for continuous improvement, let’s not lose sight of what is great about this country.