Thursday, March 09, 2006

NIH Director Calls Curative Model of Medical Practice Unsustainable

Surely I must be dreaming- please someone pinch me!

Because in a remarkable interview by Barbara Culliton , Deputy Editor of Health Affairs of the Director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Elias Zerhouni, MD said that the current curative model of US Medical practice is unsustainable. Published today on the Health Affairs website .Zerhouni sees his job at NIH , probably the most prestigious voice for bio- medical research worldwide, as one of "provocateur, not a manager of the status quo". He also emphasizes, as I have been, that the future of medicine be much more interdisciplinary although, unlike my own emphasis on fully integrating and leveraging bio-medicine with sociology, psychology, and theology (see ), Zerhouni references the need for bio-medicine to shake hands with nanotechnology, sytems biology, and- get this folks- "openness to radical ideas" with the hope that NIH dollars will be spent more wisely and have a cumulative effect on population heath. Yes, you heard me- population health!

While he sees value in electronic medical records technology and even national health insurance , Dr. Zerhouni says these could help reduce medical costs but only at the margins. Zerhouni believes rather that the practice of medicine needs to be fundamentally altered.

This remarkable interview of an obviously creative and couragoeus bio-medical leader is very good news for those of us who believe that more incrementalism in US Health Care System reform is a recipe for failure and also for those of us who believe in the imperative for early disease detection, chronic disease management and best of all primary disease prevention.

My personal Rx for american citizens from a Doc like me is perhaps even more radical?- Meaningful, safe and healthy jobs for all American citizens who are able to contribute and compassionate healthcare for those fellow citizens who are unable to engage in work.

Back to my opening comment on this post. Please e-pinch me. I need to validate that I read this interview while not dreaming. Be well all - better days-they are a'comin! Maybe sooner than we think?


Blogger BobbyG said...

Remarkable interview. VERY interesting. Thanks.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous blake said...

Thanks BobbyG- Let's hear from you! Let us have your views on Health Care reform. Thanks and Be Well

5:32 PM  
Blogger Cervantes said...

I haven't had a chance to read the Zerhouni interview yet, but I will say this: changing course at NIH is going to take a lot more than talk. It's going to take substantial congressional action, presidential leadership (hah!) and leadership within the medical and public health community to overcome resistance from vast, entrenched interests including the biomedical research establishment, the drug companies, and yes, the disease-based advocacy community particularly ACS. Many people understand our current plight, but translating that understanding into significant change is a long struggle that still lies ahead.

5:56 AM  
Anonymous Blake said...

Cervantes-THANKS!- I agree with you-the REAL action must come in the form of laws, regs,and policy actions by employers. But when leader after leader gets on board which seems to me to be happenning? it will be increasingly difficult for our legislators and business leaders to resist the growing imperative for prevention and a US health care-not disease care system. Be Well.

6:48 AM  
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11:53 PM  
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