Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Change healthcare and impact death

Again I read an interesting article.

What a great reinforcement for the notion that prevention or early detection should be the focus of funding and energy in Medicine/Healthcare. Yes we need to treat illness, but the “most bang for the buck”; the greatest impact on community/people’s health (and deaths) is with prevention and/or early detection with access to definitive care at that point, not when care becomes more costly and the chance of cure minimal.

The survival rate for many cancers is similar to the cliff-like curve that defines ovarian malignancies. Find the disease early, thanks to a stray blob on an x-ray or an early symptom, and the odds of survival approach 90 percent. Treatment—surgery—is typically low risk. But find it late, after the tumor has metastasized, and treatment requires infusions of toxic chemicals and blasts of brutal radiation. And here the prognosis is as miserable as the experience.

The Canary Foundation has that as its mission (not an endorsement, but applause):

Canary Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to the goal of identifying cancer early through a simple blood test and then isolating it with imaging. Our collaborative research programs span multiple disciplines and institutions.

We need to examine our healthcare system and quit dumping money only into glamorous (?) high-tech, late interventions for cancer (and other “disease states”). That is not the way to do it. Healthcare reform must be about access, ensuring quality, and cost containment not just focusing on funding or payor. Certainly cost containment must rely heavily on prevention and early detection and intervention. Don’t constrict your view of “healthcare reform”. Impact death, impact health; change our payor system, but primarily allow for access, ensure quality and contain cost for the whole system to work, to change.

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