Several years ago I started blogging, hoping to offer my perspective on some common healthcare problems. Although this platform has proven useful (and I will continue to blog), today I am launching Healthcare PittStop. This new endeavor is intended to be not a one-way vehicle but a forum for conversation, a place where I can stitch together the disparate pieces of my journey through healthcare while fielding views from other stakeholders in the field.
Healthcare PittStop: Stakeholders Speak Out
What will Healthcare PittStop provide that my blog doesn’t? The answer lies in a famous version of an Indian legend by John Saxe, “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” In this fable, each individual feels the elephant and, depending on what part they are near, each comes to a different conclusion: It’s a wall, a snake, a spear, etc. In many ways, healthcare is similar. Across the various roles (provider, administrator, innovator, policy maker, researcher, investor, etc.) I’ve noticed a disconnect. Although we’re all trying to deliver better care, each of us sees the world through their own lens. So, Healthcare PittStop is an effort to bring all those perspectives into one space where we can learn from one another. I’ll be inviting friends from all healthcare sectors to tell me what motivates them, the problems they see, and potential solutions. These conversations will be posted as blog interviews and podcasts.
The Many Hats of A Healthcare Professional
Such a gathering of distinctive voices will lend a breadth to the project, one enlarged by the multiple roles healthcare professionals now hold. My own life in medicine is a case in point; it certainly hasn’t been a straight line. In high school I worked in an orthopedic lab crushing cadaver hipbones to figure out better artificial joint designs. In college and medical school I did cancer research. I thought I wanted to be an oncologist, but later switched to neurology and then to neuroradiology. Some people take the high road. My wife would tell you I took the long road.
But my timing in radiology was good. The transitioning from film to digital imaging during my residency provided an opportunity to learn a lot about IT, and by extension play a role within the hospital administration relatively early in my career. Now, as a more senior physician at the Barrow Neurological Institute, I
spend my time caring for patients and teaching residents and fellows. But I’ve also become an entrepreneur, contributing to a series of start ups in the device and health IT space. This experience has allowed me to learn about raising money from venture capital and private equity. I’ve also worked on several healthcare policy initiatives. The contributors to Healthcare PittStop come similarly equipped with diverse experience along the healthcare spectrum.
Patients, Families, and the Healthcare Experience
Finally, it’s not just my professional experience that motivates me to create this new space. I’ve also seen our healthcare system from the other side. While horseback riding in 2008, my mother suffered a neck injury that left her quadriplegic. Watching her care and recovery—and the gulf between scientific prowess and care, particularly long-term care—was eye opening. Moving from hospital to home spells the difference between a luxury liner (where all your needs are met) and a forgotten dinghy floating adrift at sea. No wonder healthcare costs in America are double the rest of the developed world while our outcomes—for which we pay 18% of our GDP—rank behind various eastern block countries. To be sick in America often means having to fend for yourself. You are in danger of not only losing your physical health but simultaneously your financial security.
So, there you have it. My blog stemmed, in part, from frustration with what medicine has become—a Gordian knot of maligned incentives pushing back against any change. But rather than reframing the blog as “Medicine of the Absurd,” I’ve decided to strike out along this new path instead. I hope you join me. If you have a topic or would like to participate let me know. Together we can change the way we care for each other.