There's an ongoing struggle for the hearts and minds of the American people. The battle rages on quietly, but occasionally bubbles over into the public consciousness. One side is loud, veracious, and spits its tyrannical philosophy far and wide. The other is sheepish, and docile.
We all know that I'm talking about health care. There are those who feel that our system is undeniably broken. They think that we have journeyed so far off course that our moral fiber has eroded. They say our values languish under a system driven more by personal profit than public good. The detractors are a motley crew of journalists, politicians, policy wonks, and health care consultants.
They point their criticism at health care providers and coin new terms to describe the so called depravity. They talk about "accountability" as if they are the ones in the ICU having the family meetings. They pray at the alter of "quality" yet fail to define the specifics of such a term. They resent "over treatment" but never have suffered the consequences of not doing enough.
The veracity of one group of combatants is only equaled by the meekness of the other. Practicioners, actually providing the care in America, find themselves too busy to respond. They watch as the public's confidence erodes but feel overwhelmed by the complexity of patient care. Wasteful exercises in futility steel away their time: billing, coding, preauthorizations, meaningful use, electronic medical records.
It is a learned helplessness. The quiet rebellion continues. Doctors become businessman. Nurses become managers. We cling to new models like concierge and cash practices.
The public, inundated by the power and volume of our detractors message, has noticed our silence. Without a dissenting voice they are left to believe that what they are hearing is true. They are losing faith.
We as physicians and nurses, therapists and social workers, have but one choice left. We must recast the characters and rewrite the plot. We must repaint the fresco to be more airy and accurate.
We must tell our stories.