Saturday, August 11, 2012

Making Health Care More Accessible

Health care - four basic biggies

Heart Attacks


Other diseases

Trauma (stabs, car wrecks, falls, etc)

The problems we're having with health care are two-fold: 1) expense, and 2) lack of supply to meet the demand.

Both of these two problems can be addressed to a large extent with Do It Yourself (DIY) technology. There's no reason to wait two weeks to see a doctor, when some of the same information he can glean about your body is discernible using modern technology.

For trauma issues, your best best is the Emergency Room; they're not called Trauma Centers for nothing.

Other Diseases
For diseases other than cancer and heart attacks, there's such a myriad of possibilities that there's not any one good solution. However, I've recently learned that for men, a quick, easy home test for prostate problems is a dollar-version of an Early Pregnancy Test (EPT) from the local Dollar Store - a positive result means you should seek medical care; a negative result means you're probably good until your next prostate exam. There are probably a host of little DIY tricks like this which could go a long way toward making the consumer of health-care more capable of being proactive in his/her own health.

There's probably not a medical professional alive who would go on-record suggesting an EPT for testing for prostate problems. If there was one case where the EPT failed to indicate prostate problems and someone developed serious complications from failure to seek professional help, that doctor would likely be ruined. So I doubt that the claim of EPT testing for prostrate problems can be verified as being a valid test. But assuming it is a valid test, how many other simple, cheap tests are available to address a lot of medical issues which are simply being buried by the current culture of medicine?

Some cancers are detectable by blood tests; some are not. However, if we had a simple DIY blood test, available for home use, or perhaps at a $5/test kiosk at your local pharmacy or E.R., this could go a long way toward making early detection and treatment of many cancers a reality, which would save a lot of lives and lots of money.

I believe this is doable; all it would take is someone with the necessary knowledge to put it together, and then for some marketer/hospital to make it available to the masses on the cheap. This might cut into the profits of the health industry, but for those members of the industry whose mission is to provide care rather than to make money, it could be a means to fulfill their mission.

Heart Attack
One of the prime problems with heart attacks is the hesitancy to seek help. You lay in bed at 1am, wondering if this chest pain is a heart attack or just that last slice of pizza disagreeing with you. You could call an ambulance and rack up a multi-thousand dollar bill, and stay up all night in an uncomfortable trauma center room, only to find out it's just a pinched nerve, or you could lay there wondering until you die.

If we had a simple blood test to check for the markers of a heart attack, that'd go a long way toward getting people to the professionals when they're needed.

I had originally conceived of a self-serve kiosk at the local E.R. into which you put your $5 bill to pay for all the sticky-leads and etc of an EKG (ECG?) machine, but was recently told that a blood test is much more reliable than an EKG (ECG?). So how about a self-serve kiosk that lets you prick your finger like a blood-sugar test, put a few drops of blood onto a sampler, and presto, you have your results? "Yes, your blood markers indicate that you're having a heart attack. Seek medical help immediately." Or, "Your blood markers are normal. You're probably not having a heart attack, but it would be best to seek a professional's advice." If the blood test is really accurate, this would save a lot of lives, as well as money.

I wouldn't be surprised if a simple light-beam, or audio signal, etc, shone through the skin flap between one's fingers and into a receiver couldn't take the place of actual blood-letting for many blood tests, including that for blood-sugar levels. How many diabetics would appreciate that?

I think we can do this. Let's do it.

1 comment:

Sheri said...

Since there is no obvious way for this DIY machine to give the federal government more control of your life and your personal decisions, I don't think this will be allowed to happen. Maybe if we put a big tax on it, or rig it to send your personal data to the FBI, or make somebody else pay the $5...Oh, and we'll have to do a 20 year, environmental impact study first.