Don't Be Pushed Around

 

Have you ever found yourself doing things that you really didn’t want to do just because someone else wouldn’t stop insisting? I am not talking about the time you went to a chick flick with your wife or significant other because she wanted to go. Likewise, I am not talking about the time she agreed to put together a bunch of snacks so you could chill with your friends and watch the game. Those activities are a part of compromising and maintaining a good relationship.

 

Wearing You Down

 

What I am talking about are things that you do because someone simply wears you down. It can be as simple as someone offering you ice cream. You say, “No.” The person replies, “Are you sure you don’t want some?” and you again decline. After declining several times, people will often finally accept the ice cream just to get the other person to stop asking.

 

There are multiple problems with giving in to quiet the person. First, you end up eating ice cream that you don’t want. Second, you lose personal power and the connection to your own desires. Third, the other person learns that all they have to do is keep insisting and you will do what they want. Therefore, this becomes a pattern and they will do it again and again.

 

It Escalates

 

Once a person successfully uses this technique with you, it almost always escalates to bigger sacrifices on your part. A work example is when someone very kindly asks you to take on a piece of their work although your workload is as heavy or heavier than theirs. They may try to soften it with “just this time” or give you a story as to why they need you to step up.

 

You have to carefully consider the request. If it is someone who gives it their all and this is truly an exception, by all means step up and help if you can. However, if you suspect the person is trying to get out of work and may even take credit for the work even if you do it, say “No” and be firm about it.

 

Be Consistent And Don’t Give In

 

If you give in – even if you make them ask 100 times, the end result is you gave in. No has to mean “No” and stay “No.” If “No” turns into a “Yes” somewhere along the way, then the person thinks that every “No” in the future can likely be changed into a “Yes.” They may go as far as to assume that your “No” really is a “Yes” and may not even make the effort to get you to say “Yes.”

 

Once you start doing things for someone like this, watch out because soon you will be doing more and more of their work. It is also unlikely that they will give you any credit for the effort. In the meantime, your work or your personal time will take a hit leaving you dissatisfied.

 

Your Life

 

The next time someone is trying to wear you down, remember that you are answering for yourself; not for what they want. If you connect to your desires and honor what you truly want, in an authentic way, you are doing the best thing you can for yourself.

 

It is your decision and no one else has a right to decide for you. If you allow someone to change your “No” to a “Yes,” you essentially allow that person to define who you are.

 

So, gather your courage, connect to what you truly believe is best for you, and stand firm in your response. It is your life – not theirs!

 

 

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

 

 

Have you ever had a parent or other authority figure who said to you, “Do as I say, not as I do?” How did you react to the statement? Did it sound odd to you? Did you follow their words or did you follow their actions?

 

Statements directing a person to follow someone’s words instead of their actions are very confusing to them, especially if they are children. By nature children learn by mimicking other people’s behavior. This tendency to mimic the actions of others carries over into adulthood. As a result, when someone’s words contradict their behavior, it creates subconscious confusion for the people around them. Since their words contradict human nature, their words often don’t have the desired effect.

 

An Example

 

Let’s take an example. Perhaps a single parent goes out and parties on the weekend. The parent smokes, drinks, and stays out all night. This same parent has strict rules on dating and tell their teenage child that they should not be sexually active, drink, or smoke. When questioned by the child as to why it’s okay for the parent but not for them, the parent replies, “Do as I say, not as I do.” This phrase is a standard response that the child has heard over and over.

 

The Parent

 

First, let’s go into the parent’s head. The parent doesn’t want their child to do the things that they do, but they are not willing to give them up. The parent may even have been told that their behavior is not appropriate by family, friends, or a cultural belief. Yet, they continue the behavior believing that telling their children not to follow their example makes it acceptable.

 

The parent is attempting to connect their child with a different behavior than they are demonstrating. Meanwhile, they are denying the connection between their behavior and the behavior their child is likely to demonstrate.

 

The Child

 

Now, let’s go into that teenager’s head. Consciously or subconsciously, the child notices that the parent drinks, smokes, and sleeps around. They also know that the parent denies or downplays their actions by stating the preferred behavior. This may appear somewhat like a lie to the child. Their brain works to sort out this information since it is contrary to their nature.

 

The resulting behavior of the teenager depends a lot on the child’s nature. Some children will listen to what the parent tells them to do and follow those instructions out of a sense of duty to the parent. However, others will connect the parent’s behavior and words to conclude that it is okay to smoke, drink, and sleep around as long as you tell others that is not the way to behave. This means that the child may fall into the same pattern with younger siblings or may behave this way with their own children. Meanwhile a teenager with another temperament may simply see the parent as lying about their actions and conclude that they don’t have to listen to the parent at all. Instead, they do anything they want whenever they want.

 

Bottom Line

 

The bottom line is that you set an example for others with your actions. Therefore, your words might as well match your actions. If your words match your actions, you will minimally be seen as authentic even if your actions are not always ideal.

 

Losing focus on intent

 

I watched a Facts of Life episode the other day where Jo, a college student representing students at a school board meeting, was upset that the college didn’t have the funds to support new scholarships. At the same meeting, the chairperson of the board was thrilled to announce that an alumnus had just offered funds to build an expensive new scoreboard for the football stadium. All the attendees, except Jo, were excited to have the opportunity to purchase a new scoreboard. Meanwhile, most of them seemed quite indifferent to the lack of funds for new scholarship.

 

Scholarships First

 

Jo believed scholarships should be funded before a scoreboard, which she viewed as unnecessary. She could have requested that the school approach the alumus to request that the funds be directed to scholarships. However, she became focused on rejecting the scoreboard leading a campus-wide campaign to against it.

 

Under great political pressure and with the approval of the contributing alumnus, the school board chair proposed a compromise where the funds for the scoreboard would be split between a less expensive scoreboard and scholarships. Neither side would receive 100% of what they wanted, but they both would benefit. Jo, however, refused to compromise.

 

No Compromise

 

Jo had lost focus on the intention of getting scholarship funding. Instead, she was focused on refusing any new scoreboard at all. Her refusal to compromise forced the board to reject the donation entirely in order to retain other donations that had been threatened due to the controversy. As a result, the school would receive no new scoreboard and no additional scholarship money.

 

Jo was excited that she had been able to stop the scoreboard until Blair, Jo’s friend, pointed out to Jo that her perceived win was actually a loss. At that point, Jo realized her mistake. She also recognized that she had to apologize to the students who had put their faith in her to do the right thing for them. And, she had to grovel to the chairperson in hopes it wasn’t too late to accept the proposed compromise.

 

Lost Focus

 

Jo had become obsessed with the scoreboard, which really had nothing to do with her original intent. Such obsessions can happen to all of us. Our minds make associations between two things, but sometimes the associations don’t really exist or don’t exist in the manner that we perceive them.

 

The more obsessed we are with a particular outcome, the less likely we will be receptive to compromise. Sometimes we lose our ability to see clearly. This may lead to conflict that has no possible resolution. Therefore, becoming obsessed with something not really connected to your intent often results in nothing but stress and frustration.

 

Be Open To Alternatives

 

The next time you feel like there is one and only one solution take a break and rejuvenate yourself before coming back to the topic. Make sure you are open to hearing alternatives. One or more of these alternatives may result in a win-win for everyone, even if it means some compromise.

 

Lessons From Our Ancestors

 

 

In the previous series “The Day The World Stopped,” we discussed various eras and proposed questions to the reader regarding specific challenges of each era. Only a few eras were discussed with a very minimal set of challenges described. Many more challenges were considered for each post. However, in the interest of focus and length, a very narrow focus was determined for each article. Each of the modern eras would require an entire book to take an in-depth look at the challenges of each era.

 

Life In The Past

 

This brings us to the question “What can we learn from our ancestors?” A study of history shows us many different things. In some cases, they did things we applaud, but in other cases we disapprove of their behavior. We also know that their lifestyle was very different.

 

Many people in the past lived in conditions that we would not be able to tolerate today. Likewise, they ate food and drank water that we would consider inedible and undrinkable. They also had a different perspective on life. The behaviors of people today would be considered abhorrent to people of years gone by.

 

Perspective

 

Thus, as much as people find some of the behaviors of people in the past unacceptable, people of those eras would find behaviors of today equally unacceptable. This is something to really consider. Are people today really better? Are people today in a place to judge?

 

My argument would be that until we understand history and learn from it, we should not judge those who came before us. Each of them has a story and until we know enough to begin to understand their life, we cannot know their struggles or their joys. We need to understand the cultures of the past as well as the life of any individual that we are judging. Additionally, we need to judge on all merits not a single dimension that we deem bad.

 

Changes Through Time

 

Views on everything from marriage, families, work, social norms, slavery, war, and more have changed throughout time. Some of the changes one might say are because we have become more sophisticated and aware while other changes were a matter of necessity. We will take a brief look at a few examples.

 

Families

 

The family unit has changed dramatically over the course of history. If we limit the scope of discussion to the approximately 400 years since Europeans came to America, we will see drastic changes. For instance, many families years ago had a large number of children – partially out of necessity (e.g. children to work the farm) and partially because of limited forms of birth control. Today, the average number of children per family is small with many people having no children.

 

If we look at households, we will find many more single parent households today than 150 years ago. In part, people in the past were much more likely to marry if a woman became pregnant than they are today. Secondly, men needed women to cook, clean, and care for children while they worked and women needed a man to provide for her and the children. Thus, many marriages were a matter of convenience and not love.

 

Another major shift is that elders today typically live on their own or in some type of senior living. Years ago, they would live with their children. If they had no children, a younger sibling, niece, nephew, or neighbor often helped care for them. Facilities still existed, but they were mostly for people who required help their families could not provide.

 

Slavery

 

When people think of slavery, a lot of them think of early America. Slavery, however, has existed throughout recorded time and has existed in various forms.

 

If we look at slavery in America, it varied widely. Slavery, thought of as restricted to the southern states actually existed in the northern states for a period of time. Even in the South, the number of slaves and percentage of people owning slaves varied from area to area. In 1860, one source states that 75% of white Americans owned no slaves; however, this was across all states. The story is very different if you focus on the southern states.*

 

Plantation owners with lots of slaves were likely to treat slaves as we perceive slave life. ** However, families that had a handful of slaves treated them in a variety of different ways. Some were treated no different than those on plantations. However, others were treated more humanely. I have personally seen a will that provided financial support for an elderly slave for the remainder of her life. In another will, land was designated to become the property of the head of a slave family if the laws at the time of the person’s death allowed him to own property. If not, the family was to be allowed to continue living there indefinitely.

 

There were other groups, such as, the Quakers that strongly believed slavery was wrong. Some of these people actually became slave owners to keep the slaves from being treated poorly and as a means to free them. Thus, when you find out that someone was a slave owner, you really need to ask the question, “What kind of a slave owner was he?” Knowing the person owned slaves is not enough to determine the person’s character or behavior. In those days, there were many different perceptions and practices when it came to slavery.

 

War

 

The last example is the view on war. It seems nations, clans, regions, etc. have always been at war with each other. Conflict appears to be part of human nature and the various cultures around the world. Yet, the view on war has changed over time.

If we consider the Revolutionary War, most people in America considered it a necessity to gain independence. Even the Quakers, who technically did not support war, found ways at times to provide support to the men who were fighting for independence.

 

Revolutionary War soldiers were considered heroes; hence, the creation of Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution. Soldiers who fought for the Union in the Civil War were also treated with great respect. Later, after WWII, the soldiers and the people of the time were referred to as the greatest generation.

 

After that, however, Americans view of war began to break down with those who served in Vietnam being treated awful by the public. People failed to see that those who served were simply doing the job their country requested of them. Instead, they saw the service members themselves as bad.

 

Today, people appear split, often along political lines, in their support for the latest conflict and for our service men and women.

 

A New Perspective

 

With these examples, you can see that views and perspectives have changed over time. Sometimes the changes have been for the better, but have they always been for the better? And, how many things really haven’t changed, but we simply perceive that they have.

 

The next time you find yourself beginning to judge a group of people of the past, a specific ancestor that may have committed a crime or lived a less than stellar lifestyle, or even someone in your life today, stop. Instead of judging, ask yourself, what do I really know about their life and the choices that the person/group may or may not have faced.

 

I highly recommend that you research and learn about the people and the era. For situations since the time print has existed, I recommend books and newspapers from the era as a source of understanding. Books and articles written later have a perspective of people of that time on the past and are less accurate at conveying the real situation. Research often gives you a much better understanding of the person and the perspective of the times.

 

If the person is someone in your life today, research by talking with the person and truly seeking to understand. Whether, in the past or present, truly trying to understand someone else, their culture, and the issues in their life is a great way to expand your awareness. You may even find your life changed because of it!

 

 

*https://www.theroot.com/slavery-by-the-numbers-1790874492

** 31% of slaves in 1860 were on plantations according to https://www.theroot.com/slavery-by-the-numbers-1790874492

 

 

Steppin in someone else's shoes

 

 

People often use phrases such as, “You can’t understand until you have walked a mile in their shoes” and “Before you judge, step into her shoes.” These sayings were likely derived from the phrase “step into someone’s shoes,” which means to take on a particular role that someone else has been doing.

 

In this case, it means to live the other person’s life or to connect with them in a way that you truly understand what has been going on in their life. The idea is to be empathetic to the person. This is never as easy as one might make it out to be because no two people’s experience is the same.

 

Differences

 

Two people that have lost a partner may react differently to that loss. One person may have died suddenly, while another died after years of illness. These two situations are very different. The partner will grieve in both cases, but in the case of the person who dies after a long illness, much of the grieving may have occurred before the actual death.

 

Even two people that are going through very similar losses will grieve differently. One person may grieve over a couple of months while another one may grieve for a year. Additionally, people’s grieving may take different forms. One person may need to surround themselves with friends and family. They may talk a lot about the person that has passed. The other person may grieve very privately needing space and alone time.

 

Empathy

 

Thus, when we put ourselves in their shoes, it is not good enough to have general empathy for the person. It is important to take it a step further. We must listen and try to understand what that person specifically is going through. Additionally, we must be extremely careful not to put our experiences or beliefs on others.

 

For example, if a person has had a loss and grieved deeply and inwardly for months, they shouldn’t believe that they are showing empathy for someone else if they encourage them to be alone and out of the social network. If they do and the other person is the type of person that needs to be out with friends to heal, they are not showing empathy at all despite their good intentions.

 

Truly In The Person’s Shoes

 

This example can be extrapolated to infinite scenarios. It is important to allow people to speak for themselves and express what they are going through. Then, people can support them in their situation. People should not, however, assume they understand what any specific individual or group is going through.

 

 

This is why it is important to give individuals and groups a voice rather than speaking for them. Even when people try to advocate for others with the absolute best of intentions, they are bound to get it wrong. They are advocating a story that they have created rather than the real story. Sometimes those stories overlap considerably; sometimes they don’t.

 

It is only by listening to others and their personal journey that we can have true empathy for them. Attempts at empathy are better than none, but does not stand up to true empathy, which is gained only by connecting to the person and their story.

 

make an offer

 

In our previous article “Garage Sale Connections,” we discussed various kinds of garage sale shoppers. In this article, we will explore our experience having a garage sale where we asked shoppers to make an offer on items.

 

The Rules

 

For our “Make an Offer” sale, people selected the items that they wanted and then made an offer for the items. We reserved the right to counter-offer if the offer was too low. And, we jokingly included in the fine print that people making ridiculously low offers would be fed to the neighbor’s pet alligator.

 

The sale had mixed results. Some people loved that they could make an offer. I believe they ended up buying more because items didn’t have a fixed price. Also, negotiations over the price seemed to serve to create a stronger connection as they often told us about what they were going to do with the items or why they wanted a lower price.

 

There were people, however, that really struggled with the idea of making an offer. Some of them didn’t know how to price the items, but others just couldn’t seem to comprehend the concept.

 

Culturally, Euro-Americans seemed to grasp the concept and be okay with it more than people from other cultures. People from cultures that like to barter seem to be thrown off by this approach, as they didn’t have a starting point. They didn’t know how to go about making a bid for the items. Plus, I sensed a reluctance to make a connection, which is really beneficial in this type of sale.

 

The Most Challenging Issue

 

The most challenging issue was language. When English was not the person’s first language or they spoke little or no English, explaining the concept just wasn’t possible most of the time. In those cases, we resorted to setting a price as that was the only way to make a sale.

 

We also set the price for children as they had no idea what to offer for something. Children always get good deals and generally speaking they are our favorite customers. A big portion of this is that they are the most open to making a connection.

 

Overall, I think we made as many connections or more with people doing the sale in this manner. Monetarily, things averaged out about the same as if we had priced the items. Some offered slightly more than we would have asked while others offered slightly less. There were a few cases where the offer was low enough that we counter offered and we were able to reach a deal in most of those cases.

 

Feed Them To The Alligator

 

We had only one case where we needed to feed a couple to the alligator. Each of them made offers that were just completely ridiculous. The man offered $4 for a nice cased dartboard and a set of very nice unique goblets. The wife offered something equally ridiculous for some other items. I explained the value of the items to them and they played innocent. The man said, “Well, I didn’t know. I just liked them.” Well, you don’t have to know a lot to know that those items are worth more than his offer. These are the type of people that are looking not just for a deal, but really to take advantage of you. They are not people with whom you want to make a connection because that makes you vulnerable to their actions.

 

In contrast to this couple, we had one gentleman carefully picked out some silk flowers. We found it unusual for an older gentleman to be selecting flowers with such care. In our discussion with him after the sale, we learned that he was buying the flowers to place them at the gravesites of his wife and daughter. His story brought tears to our eyes. So, despite selling the flowers for less than we would have liked, we were very pleased with the sale. We were happy to have made the connection for a brief time and happy to know that the flowers were going to honor two people he so obviously loved.

 

Bottom line . . . Connections can be found anywhere – even garage sales!

 

 

 

old enough

 

 

The federal government has age limits on specific positions. For instance, a person must be at least 25 to be an US Representative, 30 to be an US Senator, and 35 to be President.

 

Age Minimums

 

All states impose minimum ages for at least some of the key local and state government positions. However, the age minimums vary greatly from state to state.

 

The craziest of all laws regarding public service that I have seen are in Vermont. In that state, a person must be a voter to be a town official. Thus, effectively mandating a minimum age of 18 to be mayor of even the smallest town.

 

Governor At 14?

 

However, in Vermont there are no age limits for any key positions at the state level. Thus, anyone who has lived in the state for 4 years (a state requirement) can run for governor. In 2018, Ethan Sonneborn, who was 14 at the time, sought the nomination for the Democrat candidate for governor. He did not get the nomination, but he was qualified serve despite not having reached the age of majority.

 

As a 14-year-old, Ethan was not old enough to vote, drive a car, get a tattoo without his parent’s permission, smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, or possess a handgun. However, he was old enough to stay at home alone, possess a rifle or a shotgun, and be governor.

 

I seriously doubt that the founders of Vermont intended for the governor to be a teenager. However, no one in the nearly 230-year history of the state has ever bothered to change the age for governor. Perhaps no one paid attention before or connected the lack of an age specification to the potential contradiction and issues that arise if a teenager were to become governor.

 

Issues

 

Issues would arise due to requirements to attend school until age 16. Even with home schooling, there would be labor issues as child labor laws in Vermont restrict how much and when teenagers can work.

 

This leads me to the most obvious concern. How can a 14-year-old sign a bill into law when they are not old enough to sign a contract?

 

I suspect that if a teenager ever won the governorship, there would be lots of sudden “Ahha’s” and laws would be quickly changed.

 

 

connecting to students

 

 

When I was in high school, I was lucky to have a young math teacher who loved math, loved teaching, and was very dedicated to his job. He was exceptional and it showed in the results at math competitions. We competed at several competitions each year, including one large competition where 60 or more schools competed.

 

The school’s success was reflected in the comments of students and faculty from other schools. On multiple occasions students from other schools made comments, such as, “I was hoping you guys wouldn’t be here” or simply shook their head and said, “Oh, no!” I remember one time when someone asked me how kids from my school were so good at math. I simply pointed to our teacher.

 

After All These Years

 

Years later when several people in my class connected on Facebook, math and this particular teacher came up in discussion. Everyone remembered him well. He wasn’t the easiest teacher. He gave plenty of homework and didn’t let people get away with anything in his class. But, he was remembered and a beloved teacher. I have never heard anyone from my high school speak of any other teacher the same way.

 

Retiring!

 

This month, he is retiring after teaching for 50 years at my high school. He has won many competitions for the school (over 100 first place finishes per fortscott.biz). However, this is a minor contribution to the community compared to his other contributions. Numerous of his students have followed in his footsteps and become math teachers themselves. Other students, like me, majored in math, but went down other career paths. And, others report being successful in college math classes because of their strong math background.

 

Connecting To Students

 

Still, I believe his greatest contribution as a teacher is simply connecting with his students. None of the above accomplishments would have been possible without that connection. It is that connection that has people remembering him so fondly so many years later. Somehow he was able to relate to the students, remain in control, and get kids to understand math – all at the same time.

 

P.S. Happy Retirement, Mr. Shinn!

 

 

 

 

In Part I “Unconnected Healthcare,” we discussed the many disconnections in healthcare today. In this article, we will flip the tables and discuss what the healthcare system would be like if it connected care to the patient at every step.

 

Complete Connection

 

Imagine if you will, a world where healthcare was completely connected to the patient. In this world, the goal would be to provide the  best healthcare at the lowest price possible. This would apply to doctors, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, regulators, and insurance companies.

 

This would greatly change our current system. It would still be a free-enterprise system, but with common goals and a complete twist to the existing priorities. In this world, everyone would all be on the same page trying to address the health of people.

 

Transparency

 

In this system, costs would be transparent.  I recommend a fix-cost system where the cost of the treatment or drug is the same to all people.  For those insured, the insurance plans could be simple. Perhaps the plans could be based on paying a certain percentage or nothing if the item was completely covered. the Those without insurance would simply pay the stated price.  However, a reduce price would apply for certain people with an inability to pay.

 

With information about costs, the doctor and patient could work together to decide on the direction of treatment.  The patient would no longer suddenly being surprised by overwhelming medical bills. Different facilities could charge different amounts, but all the information would be available to everyone. Thus, if a person’s heart surgeon is associated with two hospitals, they could choose the one with the lower cost.

 

Saving Money

 

The insurance company would save money by not attempting to overturn every decision that a doctor made (okay, a bit of an exaggeration). Instead, they would trust the expert who is familiar with the patient’s case to make the best decisions for the patient. The insurance companies would run periodic audits on doctors and healthcare facilities to ensure that they are treating appropriately. This would be a win-win for the doctors and the insurance companies, not to mention the patient.

 

Likewise, hospitals would drive decisions based on doctor’s recommendations for the patient rather than some government goals or regulations. Thus, if the doctor thinks  a woman who has recently given birth needs to stay a couple of extra days, they would make that decision.  No one would need to jump through hoops and hope for approvals to make it happen.

 

Flexibility

 

Additionally, the ability to get medication would be made easier. The total amount available would remain the same, but if you needed medicine two weeks before you ran out, you could get it. The date of the next refill would remain a month or the specified interval after it would have been if you filled it on time. Thus, if the refill is due on the first of the month, it would remain the first of the month for the next refill no matter when you last refilled it. In this case, trust is shown that the patient will use it appropriately. If they do not, they may run out or have other issues, but that is a separate issue that should not be managed by limitations on all patients.

 

Finding Cures

 

Lastly, pharmaceuticals would have incentives to find medicines that cure rather than manage symptoms. They would also be encouraged to look to natural methods and ingredients rather than just focusing on chemical combinations. There would be a focus on limiting side effects.

 

And, companies would not advertise directly to the consumer except in a limited manner for over the counter drugs. This would drastically cut the cost of drugs in two ways. First, the pharmaceuticals would have far smaller advertising budgets. Second, fewer drugs would likely be prescribed since people wouldn’t constantly be told “Ask your doctor if . . . is right for you?”

 

Changing World

 

If all goals were in support of the best quality of care for the patients at the lowest possible cost, many things in the medical world would change. Board of directors would even have a different view on executive salaries. There would no longer be multi-million dollar bonuses to hospital executives that cut cost at the expense of the patients. Instead, patient and staff feedback would drive the business, including bonuses to executives.

 

In a world where all healthcare is connected to the patient, everyone wins!

 

 

 

 

I have been considering what is at the core of the issues that we have with the healthcare industry. One of the issues that comes up over and over again is the lack of connection between patients, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, hospitals, etc.

 

Healthcare roles are complicated and many healthcare workers are overworked. Thus, it is not surprising that many healthcare workers don’t understand a lot about other aspects of healthcare outside their specific role. However, that puts the patient in the position of handling their own healthcare inside a system that is full of flaws.

 

Flaws  In The System

 

The flaws in the system start with the paperwork, where the same information is entered over and over. Then, you talk to a nurse or medical technician, who asks you all the same questions. They may or may not enter it into the computer at that time. Now, enter the doctor who asks at least part of the questions again. (And, they wonder why people have high blood pressure.)

 

It make sense to double check some things or verify things where the answer is unclear. However, it makes a patient wonder why they are filling out the forms. Of course, it is sometimes far easier to ask the patient the question than read their handwriting or find the answer among the general history questions that have nothing to do with the problem at hand.

 

Best Interest In Mind

 

Still, I believe doctors and their staffs generally have the patient’s best interest in mind. They prescribe the treatments, surgery, and medicines that they believe will help the patient. The issue is that they have no idea how much these treatments cost the patient. I would really hate for them to make decisions on treatments based on cost. On the other hand, when there are two viable options, the doctor could choose a less expensive option if they knew the cost.

 

Whose Interest In Mind?

 

Hospitals, on the other hand, appear to be focused solely on making money. Patient care is a statistic to meet a government guideline or rule. They are worried about being penalized and/or meeting requirements that are financially beneficial to them. Often these rules are contradictory and not aligned with providing the best patient case despite that being the supposed goal.

 

The pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies also play a role. The pharmaceutical companies decide what to research and how much to charge for the drugs that they create. Like hospitals, they are about making money, which is not a good thing for the patient. They search for ways to address symptoms rather than cure diseases because they have no incentive to find cures.

 

The pharmacies, along with government regulations, decide when you can get medicine that is prescribed to you. The rules are different for mail pharmacies and local pharmacies. In the case of local pharmacies, often you cannot get your prescription refilled until less than a week before you run out. This is a huge issue for patients when living in rural areas where it is miles to town or when someone travels. It is not uncommon in these situations for the patient to be required to take extraordinary steps to get their medication.

 

Codes, Codes, And More Codes

 

Now, enter the insurance companies whose goal it is to limit expenses. They question everything, but generally speaking the staff questioning the need for treatment has little if any medical training. They know nothing of the patients’ situation outside the “codes” and they don’t trust the expert’s opinion.   Thus, someone completely unconnected to the patient and their situation is attempting to alter or limit the patient’s care.

 

This is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, it means lots of time and dollars are wasted arguing about how much money is going to be spent. The patient, in turn, ends up spending time getting it figured out or making sure that someone is figuring it out. In many situations, the prescribed treatment is approved, but at what cost?

 

In Part II “Connected Healthcare,” we will discuss an alternate healthcare system that connects care to the patient at every step.