The Future of Medicine is Now: Can We Afford It?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, all there ever will be to know and understand.” ~ Albert Einstein

Writing about healthcare public policy is never far removed from contention and conflict. It just comes with the territory. So it’s a treat on occasion to share something that can be appreciated and enjoyed without being debated (that being said, stand by). But first, please enjoy these two videos – in order, starting in the late 23rd century with the original crew of Star Trek.

“What is this, the Dark Ages?”

Now fast forward back to the twenty-first century.

InSightec is an Israeli-based company that has pioneered MR guided Focused Ultrasound, which provides a personalized non-invasive treatment that can replace invasive procedures and offer therapeutic alternatives to millions of patients with serious diseases. Jackob Vortman, PdD, the President of InSightec, shares the remarkable advancements he and his colleagues are achieving.

Future of Noninvasive Outpatient Surgery

Policy Implications

The future of medical technology is indeed exciting. As with many innovations over the course of history what once was only imagined is now becoming a reality. At the same time medical technology is recognized as a fundamental driver of healthcare costs and, in turn, affordability. From a social and political perspective what makes this driver so acutely felt today is the demographic impact on escalating demand for core primary care.

Invoking Star Trek again, the relative merits of individual versus social needs pervade several film episodes with the key line being, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or the one.” Of course pragmatists will recognize that’s really more a matter of perspective than any metaphysical reality: i.e., depending on whether you are the one or the many and your personal belief system.

To put a finer point on the issue: how can we possibly continue to fund the types of advancements of organizations like InSightec here in the US and allocate sufficient resources to provide a baseline level of care for a dramatically aging population while not being more direct, more candid and more transparent in how medical care is rationed?

There has always been rationing of care. But it has always been a de facto situation that is for better or worse woven into the fabric of our care delivery system. Can we continue that way without anticipating some real tragedies?

Cheers,
  Sparky

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ChangingAging

with Dr. Bill Thomas

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