The ABCs of Health Care

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Physicians are good at acronyms. We've had years of training. Ask any GI doctor about your PUD, IBS or IBD and they won't miss a beat. Lately, however, I've come to realize that our ability to abbreviate pales in comparison to the skills of the politician. The Affordable Care Act, aka the PPACA, contains ACOs and MTMs, none of which have much meaning to me.

And just when I'm planning to sit down and waste some of my precious minutes at home with my family reading up on all of this, the Republicans sweep into power and promise to fix it all. Frankly, I hadn't even had time to figure out what parts are broken yet. Affordable care for all Americans? Sounds like a good thing. And an end worth striving for, not abandoning, because the first pass wasn't quite right. And if you're squeamish about the government running a portion of our health care system, consider that for over 40 million Americans enrolled in Medicare, they already do, and frankly it works pretty well.

After all, have you been wondering why your stuck-in-their-ways physician is suddenly two-finger typing into an electronic record? Why you can now go online and compare hospitals on how well their doctors and nurses communicate with you, or how well they control your pain? Or why your hospital can no longer charge you for some medical mistakes during your stay? That's all largely thanks to Medicare and government (yes, government!) initiatives.

Initiatives that started off-target, but are continuously being improved. Initiatives that upset all of the old ways of caring for patients and paying for health care, and irritate the vocal pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and even physicians -- but which help you, the patient. Mull that over for a bit when you start thinking that our system of medical care shouldn't be tampered with.

Even if "Obamacare" doesn't achieve all the lofty goals set forth, when I take a deep breath and set aside all of my media induced anxiety, I can see potential. And it has lead to one concrete, positive outcome. I now talk to patients about their peptic ulcer disease, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. I leave the abbreviations to the professionals.


With a Perspective, I'm Logan Faust.