Avoidable care and sacred care

Shalom. I just returned from a fascinating conference in Boston, MA sponsored by the Lown Institute. The theme of the meeting was “From Avoidable Care to Right Care”. Some 200 plus physicians, health care professionals, and academics allied to the health sciences gathered to discuss the challenges to society in general and patient care in particular regarding the over use of medical tests which continue to drive up costs and impact society.  They attendees came from all over the globe. I was honored to present a keynote on “The Moral and Spiritual Dimensions of Overuse.” You can watch my presentation in the player below.

The discussions carried with them a sense of urgency. These are people who are in the front lines and who have the ability to organize for change. What was shown is that quietly, in many places in the country, steps are being taken to reduce costs and maintain care.

2013LownConf_Width660pxWhat also emerged as a theme is something we have written about a lot on this site. That is the power of relationships within the care giving arena. Many times during panels and keynotes, the importance of relationships and love came up. This is not unfamiliar turf to us. There was a lot of discussion around patient centered medicine and the need for “shared decision making” as life ebbs. The need for individual care plans to be created in consultation with your doctor also frequently came up.

What some of this means, I think, is a further validation on the role that Boomers are playing in re-structuring the medical agenda. We want more involvement for our own self  in our own life and greater input into decisions that will impact our health. This open dialogue  between patient and family and physician can lead to what I referred to as “sacred care”. Many of us are involved in this issue right now. Communication and speaking truth are invaluable in this journey. That is why increasing numbers of health care professionals are looking at a moral and just way to reduce exploding medical costs while not sacrificing the basic care that each person needs. This is an issue which will continue to have a voice in society. As all of us age and demand more services and procedures we may have to ask; for what purpose? Can we afford, as a society, to ay for texts and procedures in the final stages of life that do little more than confirm a diagnosis or appease a person’ family that everything is being done. Could those resources be better spent on vaccinating young people to ward off diseases that will, in adult-hood, further tax the system?

This and many more associated discussions are becoming more necessary, and increasingly relevant.

Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min

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