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After 39 years, countless doctors, and a list of diagnoses that rivals Santa’s list I have had more surgeries, invasive and noninvasive procedures, traditional an non traditional therapies than the average person. Over the years I have become very jaded when it comes to the medical community. I have been left to wonder if doctors really care. Do they really care about our wellbeing or do they care about the money and seeing the maximum number of patients possible every day. I had a chance to speak with Dr. Leah Houston, CEO of the Human Physicians Empowerment Community (HPEC). Recently, Dr. Houston wrote an article published in the medical community regarding the Self-Sovereign Identity for patients. In the time I spent with her my eyes were opened to what is really happening in the medical community and where the breakdown really is. When I asked Dr. Houston why she was doing this, she responded that she got to a point where she didn’t care about her job anymore. She cared more about ethics and truly being able to help people which is why she became a doctor in the first place. A self proclaimed “nerd” in school who was drawn to math and science becoming a doctor she felt was the best way to use her knowledge and do what she loved and help people without spending her days in a lab. It breaks her heart to think people don’t think their doctors care about patients or patient care. Most doctors don’t have the luxury of being able to speak up. Some are either “drinking the kool-aid” and do think the current way is the right way but most are just like the rest of us and have bills to pay and mouths to feed on top of nearly $200,000 of debt. Becoming a physician is the only trade/career in which you must undergo three to eight years of training as a resident after four years of undergraduate training and four years of medical school- the pipeline is long and the hourly pay works out to be less than minimum wage. So, what exactly is the problem? Third parties such as big corporations, insurance companies and and pharmaceutical companies along with patients not having access or control over their own medical records. How did we get to this point? Understanding legislation put in place up until now is the first step. When health insurance was first developed around the 1930’s it was meant for catastrophic events, injuries and illness. Just as you would not use your auto insurance to replace your oil or buy new tires for your car, health insurance was not meant to be used for routine checkups and flu shots. In the mid 20th century employers began commonly adding health insurance is a benefit, at this point the medical community began to catch on that if a third party is involved it was easier to allow to create polices that would allow healthcare to be exempt of anti-kick back laws as well as monopoly laws, It is because of this that we pay exorbitant amounts for an aspirin in the hospital and why large corporations have been able to essentially take over entire suburban areas which don’t always allow for a patient to truly seek the treatment they need by searching for a physician they are comfortable with and respect. Advancements in medicine have contributed to the inflation in cost but the bureaucracy of healthcare industry third parties are also drastically inflating healthcare cost and inhibiting doctors to give adequate care and thus patients feel they are suffering or being neglected. While the U.S. may have the largest healthcare system, it is arguable if it is the best. To put the amount of money the industry generates, it is the fifth largest economy in the the world. The top five ranking economies in the world are as follows: the U.S. at number one, followed by China, Germany, Japan and the U.S. Healthcare system at $3.6 trillion and 1/3 of that goes to administrative waste. There is no argument on either side that everyone should have access to affordable healthcare but privatized healthcare as well as Medicare and Medicaid have both played a part in duping the doctor as well as the patient. Medicare and Medicaid promised the doctors fair reimbursement and HMOs did the same with companies. We have gotten to a place where we have no choice but to use health insurance for all of our healthcare needs rather than for catastrophic occurrences. How do we fix it? Dr. Houston’s goal fo HPEC is to restore physician autonomy and trust in the doctor/patient relationship by using new secure technology via the SelfSovereign Identity. Currently, records and charts are stored on a centrally managed blockchain controlled typically by a hospital. We do want it to be well documented that we are insulin dependent, have medication allergies or have medications that could cause a reaction. We have a right to an unbiased second opinion not allowing a doctor to be influenced by a previous doctor. In one part, according to Dr, Houston allowing doctors to have control of the treatment they provide and getting third parties out of the exam room who are monitoring the entire doctor/patient relationship down to how many minutes a visit lasts is causing the current breakdown. Currently, the patient chart serves a dual purpose for documenting important facts about the patient for the doctor but is also being used for third parties for billing and so-called efficiency purposes. A Self-Sovereign Identity would allow the physician more control as well as giving the patient access. A second part would be something called “Direct Primary Care Management”, not to be confused with “Concierge Medicine” as “Direct Primary Care Management” is much more affordable to the average person. This would allow you to have more direct access to your doctor and cut back expensive ER or Urgent Care visits, starting the process of getting third parties out of the exam room giving doctors the opportunity to dedicate more time to their patients and less time doing paperwork. In a nutshell giving doctors back the power to treat instead of an administrator without a medical degree. Where doctors spend years getting formal education in healing and take an oath to, ‘first do no harm”, the people dictating your level of care have an MBA in doing what is best for the bottom line of the insurance company, hospital, drug company etc. To learn more about HPEC, their mission and how you can help visit https://hpec.io/
By Kelli Sprague-Baker