George Blackburn on Team-Oriented Healthcare
Dr. Blackburn serves as Associate Professor of Surgery and Nutrition, Associate Director of the Division of Nutrition, and is the first incumbent of the S. Daniel Abraham chair in Nutrition Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is the, Chief of the Nutritional/Metabolism Laboratory, and Director of the Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine, which are affiliated with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts.
Blackburn: Well, I think there isn't a health care system, so it's broken. So the good news about that is we can start from scratch. And clearly we know that it has to be team-oriented, that we have to have the right amount of doctors, nurse practitioners and other allied health people to put it together. We have to get our health records up on the internet. So these new announcements that Google and others go in and provide a platform for a health record are terrific. We do have to personalize our own health care and prevention and treatment, and use partners. I think we're going to find medic clinics and community convenience clinics that will be a good place to take your electronic medical record and your personalized medical history to get care. But right now the system we offer is not health care, but it's medical care, and we have to get back to health care.
Question: Do you support universal health care?
Blackburn: Yes. I think it'll have to come in steps, but you could just do the math to see the trillions of dollars that we're spending by not having a universal health care, and know that ultimately we have to get there. Now how we go from where we are with a broken system to universal health care is going to take a lot of people caring and take a lot of action.
Question: Are there enough doctors in the U.S.?
Blackburn: Absolutely. I mean, we now are talking about adding maybe as many as six more medical school classes each, with another 100 medical students in it. We're thousands of doctors short, particularly in primary care. That's why we have to have a health care system with these internet health records and with teens that include these community health care centers that can screen and filter people. They have to be then joined with doctor groups and hospital groups for us to have a health care system that we simply do not have at this time.
Question: Does medical education need reform?
Blackburn: Yes, absolutely. I mean, we need to re-engineer the medical school education. We, of course, are doing that at Harvard now. We're working on this health literacy area so our graduate school of education is helping us with professionalism, so that now there's equal status for the scientific medical doctor at Harvard and the clinical doctor at Harvard. But our students are struggling with this changeover in education because it's so complex. But we do have to make room for more doctors, and we have to get more efficient in our education process.
George Blackburn explains how technology can improve the nation's healthcare system.