Academic journal article Frontiers of Health Services Management

East Meets West-American Style

Academic journal article Frontiers of Health Services Management

East Meets West-American Style

Article excerpt

Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never -were and ask, why not? -Robert Kennedy

THIS CHARACTERIZES THE approach taken by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Silberman describes integration of complementary medicine at the payer level. The leadership they demonstrated in being responsive to consumers is to be commended. It also just so happens to make good business sense.

Fundamental to the positions of all of the authors is the issue that there is a better way than sole use of the super-technology, biomedicine solutions in which patients passively state, "do me." All the authors share the belief that medicine in which the individual takes responsibility for and participates in their own health is better. What also cannot be ignored is that advanced technology solutions are reaching their limit of affordability. Consider that one $20,000 interventional angioplasty costs zoo months of $200 insurance premiums.

In my travels as a consultant, I have been amazed at the resistance that some physicians have staged to hospital exploration of complementary medicine. In too many instances this resistance to change and to consider something new sounds like a chorus of "who moved my cheese" (Johnson 1998). Materson does a good job of keeping one foot in both worlds and adequately defends that physicians must protect their patients from fraudulent practices. But he also acknowledges that physicians have not done a good job of fulfilling the patient's need to be addressed as a whole person. If physicians wish to remain the "quarterback" for healthcare, they must learn all of the plays.

I recently observed an example of an orthopedic surgeon practicing this on a simple level. In this sports medicine case, the physician determined that the athlete's injury had healed but left it up to the trainer to evaluate whether the athlete was ready to play. What struck me was the level of respect this physician demonstrated for the trainer. …

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