Triaging the Healthcare Debates

| Contact Center/CRM Views and Analysis

Triaging the Healthcare Debates

Bring money and mortality together and you have an unstable mix. The more important these values and issues are in a society the greater the likelihood the discussions and debates blow up in the smoke and fire of self-interest.

That is the sad sum and outcome of the United States' healthcare 'debate'. A conversation over proposals aimed at helping the less fortunate has become twisted by those who profit from the status quo who have abetted ideological warfare alongside the true believers in the long and dishonorable tradition of willful ignorance. Much like what has happened to peace plans in other troubled parts of the world. That millions suffer through being uninsured or underinsured in the U.S. and poverty in others is just collateral damage.

Unfortunately the refrain from the business community--the one constituency that could bang heads to work this out--has been 'we don't want any pay more either in premiums or taxes or put up with what we fear is more red tape'. Yet is this attitude and approach really in their best interests, let alone the nation's?

Have businesses especially really taken a hard look of what the total costs of the healthcare crisis inflicts on their bottom lines? How can their books benefit when staff comes in injured or sick to work when they can't afford to get adequate treatment? When staff benefit-shop: jumping from company to company to stay alive and well? When individuals leave flexible part-time jobs or independent contractor work for benefit-paying full time employment?

Is it in the employers' best interests to collectively pay huge sums for administration, back office, and overhead, including marketing, customer care, and billing/collections contact centers and their underlying technologies? Dollars shelled out by them and their employees that could have gone instead to keeping employees and families well and keeping their costs down? Shouldn't they be demanding streamlining of the present bloated industry?

Shouldn't businesses also be demanding increased effectiveness of medical services delivery by demanding a nationwide standardized intermediate caregiver level, between MDs and RNs, who can make diagnoses and prescribe and administer treatments now carried out ad hoc by PAs, nurse practicioners, and in emergencies, by highly-trained paramedics? Would this not save huge sums while providing more immediate and widespread higher quality of care?

Moreover shouldn't those also who underwrite health costs be asking where is the bottom-line value in having huge resources going into prolonging the lives of those terminally ill by another six to eight months to live, in subsidizing doctors and their attendant infrastructure? When those resources can be used more effectively with more caring and less suffering through palliative care and in enabling others to get well better, quicker, back to work, happy, and productive? As The World According to Garp author John Irving put it: "we are all terminal cases."

Contact centers, and contact-center-dependent organizations especially ought to take a hard look at whether the existing system works for them. They are the ones who get hit the most on turnover, sick days, and high healthcare costs.

Not that the United States is alone in facing healthcare issues. Other countries have been debating how to manage rising costs amidst aging populations, with matters such as physician shortages and wait times. There is ongoing fighting between established medical interests and with other spending and fiscal priorities, with no quick fixes. There too the business communities have washed their hands even though their firms as a whole are impacted.

There needs to leadership in both the U.S. and in other countries to triage such debates, to look beyond their constrictively-defined self-interests to where their goods and society's meet, and engage in truly rational discussions about what is best for their societies. In this process there needs to be second and third opinions, and compromises and consensus.

Only in this fashion will there be courses of treatment fashioned for the healthcare systems that may not be ideal and will require some effort on the patients' parts but which are best prescriptions for their, and society's long-term survivability.

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