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Dr Manny's Notes

Octomom vs. Economic Crisis: What's Really Important?

These are interesting times we're in a• to say the least. Over the past couple of weeks, we have all been concentrating on "Octomom" from California, and with new developments in the story everyday, it's easy to see why she's been the topic of conversation. I was following the story too, calling for an ethical investigation of the fertility clinic from day one, but with the state of our economy and the country experiencing what could be one of the most pivotal moments in American history, I want to move past that story.

I think it's time the media starts concentrating on the changes that the Obama administration will be proposing in the future and some of the ideas that have already been approved.

Now, let's look at the facts ... The American health care system needs help! Why? Well, because it is filled with inefficiencies and overpriced operational costs.

How did it get like that? Well, it's possible the American health care system has seen a lot of the same issues as our financial sector a• which we all know by now is quite a mess. Our financial experts have given us many explanations for the current economic crisis_ Many blame the banks for recklessly handing out loans and credit, some blame the public for borrowing more money than they could ever repay, then there's all the greedy Wall Street executives making profits off back of funds that don't even exist, and who can forget those elaborate Ponzi schemes that went unnoticed by federal agencies for years.

Well, believe it or not, we have a lot of the same things happening in health care. We have some patients that demand every test in the book on the basis of what they've read or seen on television, hospitals that have been enamored with demands because of technological advances and profit margins, and doctors that have concentrated on sub-specialty service, rather than primary care and prevention.

So now, we are all looking to President Obama's stimulus bill to see how he will resolve these problems. Some of his proposed ideas are very interesting. Electronic medical records, for instance, provide us with computerized data entry on patients, a way to track symptoms, disease processes, a way to dramatically decrease the overutilization of certain tests, minimize medical mistakes both by physicians and hospitals. And down the road, it might even decrease costs.

But many critics worry about privacy issues. I totally agree that patient confidentiality should always be protected. I remember when the new HIPPA laws came into effect under President Clinton, I could not even discuss a patient's medical condition or get a second opinion from a colleague without getting a written consent from the patient.

But I think that before we start throwing good money in to solve the problems bad money got us into, the way previous financial stimulus plans have, we need to really understand how our current health care system is working, and address the issues that got us here in the first place.

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