Why Healthcare Needs A New “Pope”

I was reading the Time magazine article about Pope Francis who is their Person of the Year.  In reading it, I was struck by the parallels with healthcare.

  • The church is a huge institution that is hard to change…like the healthcare system.
  • There is a need for transparency…like healthcare.
  • There is a need to address the needs of the poor…just like healthcare.
  • There is a need for new changes to embrace technology and cultural change…like healthcare.

I also looked at a few of the quotes in the magazine, and they could easily be relevant for healthcare also with a subtle change in words.

“It is necessary to broaden the opportunities for a stronger presence of [consumers] in the [healthcare system]”

“Who am I to judge”  His approach to dealing with [patients] is first about compassion not condemnation.

“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points.”

These parallels were reinforced this morning when I read an article about Amanda Levitt and obesity in USA Today.  We’re all familiar with the obesity bias that exists, and I certainly think obesity is an issue which we have to tackle.  That being said, we’re not going to address it by attacking overweight people and shaming them into behavior change.  If obesity is going to be a disease that gets treated, then we need to have patients and providers able to talk openly about it.

The article about Amanda and her efforts at http://www.fatbodypolitics.com also got me thinking about the link between purpose in life and health.  It’s certainly not just about a number like BMI.  If I go to http://www.dungbeetle.org (which is a new product from Vic Strecher), I pulled this quote:

Let’s begin by defining what we mean by purpose. A simple definition might be: the focused, active, values-driven pursuit of an identified and attainable goal within a given time frame. In our view, that time frame could last a day or a lifetime. In other words, your purpose is likely to change over the course of your life. Your purpose may also have different dimensions, including your family, your work, your community, and your own personal growth.

We all intuitively grasp, based on our own experiences, that we’re happiest when we have a strong purpose and the vitality to pursue this purpose. Recent groundbreaking science also tells us that a strong sense of purpose is associated with increased willpower, physical and mental resilience, and a revitalized sense of happiness and well-being.

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