What angers me is the minds that sit around figuring out ways to make money off of our misfortunes. There are boardrooms full of people trying to figure out how to pocket some cash. I call them clipboard carriers. Administrators are rewarded for making money rather than for providing amazing results for the health of a community. I worked with an occupational therapist who was so inspiring to me and others as we watched her bring smiles to the depressed and life to those ready to give up. She was let go because she didn’t generate enough income for the little rural hospital. Hospitals are not factories. They don’t have assembly lines. Hospitals are full of real people with real problems and sometimes fixing those problems just doesn’t make anyone any money.
Dr. William D. wrote a blog that made me think, then again maybe they are factories?…
“. . . the life of the pig has moved out of view; when’s the last time you saw a pig in person? Meat comes from the grocery store, where it is cut and packaged to look as little like parts of animals as possible. The disappearance of animals from our lives has opened a space in which there’s no reality check on the sentiment or the brutality. . .”
The same disconnect has occurred in healthcare for the heart. The emotional distance thrust between the hospital-employed primary care physician, the procedure-driven cardiologist, the crammed-into-a-niche electrophysiologist (heart rhythm specialist) or cardiothoracic surgeon whose principal concerns are procedures—with an eye always towards litigation risk—mimics factory farms that now litter the landscape of the Midwest. The hospitals and doctors who deliver the process see us less as human beings and more as the next profit opportunity.
The “factory hospital” has allowed the subjugation of humans into the service of procedural volume, all in the name of fattening revenues. Never mind that people are not (usually) killed outright but subjected to a succession of life-disrupting procedures over many years. But whether livestock in a factory farm or humans in a factory hospital, the net result to the people controlling the process is identical: increased profits.
The system doesn’t grow to meet market demand, but to grow profits. The myth that allows this growth is perpetuated by the participants who stand to gain from that growth.
See hospitals for what they are: businesses. Despite most hospitals retaining “Saint” in their name, there is no longer anything saintly or charitable about these commercial operations. They are every bit as profit-seeking as GE, Enron, or Mobil.
I think most of us really do care about people and their individual health. We just need to care less about profits.