With political conventions in full swing, news organizations are in overdrive analyzing the implications for the first Tuesday in November. The nation is in uncharted waters since most Americans have an unfavorable opinion of both major party candidates.
That would be downright depressing if America's politicians really did lead the nation. But, they don't. On the first Wednesday in November, regardless of who is elected president, the culture will still be leading and the politicians lagging behind.
Consider, for example, our broken health care system. Obamacare didn't fix the problem and neither will Republican alternatives. Harvard's Michael Porter says "Health care delivery is simply too complex, too subtle, too individualized, and too rapidly evolving to be manageable by top-down micromanagement."
Porter believes that "the fundamental flaw in U.S. health care policy" today is "a lack of focus on patient value." Whether the bureaucrats work for insurance companies or the government, patient needs get lost in the shuffle.
Fortunately, a cure is coming from outside the political system. PC Magazine reports that "Telemedicine and telehealth apps are dramatically making healthcare more convenient, less expensive, more preventative, and in many cases downright better." To use just one example, the 20th century EKG has been upgraded for the 21st century. Now, for less than the cost of a single test at the doctor's office, you can enable your smartphone to conduct an EKG at home every day.
Cardiologist Eric Topol described the shock of receiving an email from a patient with the attention grabbing subject line: "I'm in atrial fib, now what do I do?" Test results were attached. The doctor "immediately knew that the world had changed."
The value of this upgrade is far greater than saving money or the convenience factor. It's the improved health that comes from more regular testing to catch problems earlier. An added benefit is that patients receive instant feedback from their daily testing. Such feedback leads to better lifestyle choices which also improves health.
If the idea of self-monitoring and sending the results to a doctor seems a bit strange to you, keep in mind that millions of patients with diabetes have been doing so for years. The health benefits from measuring their own blood sugar levels is incalculable.
Since recovering from the shock of his patient's email, Dr. Topol wrote a book showing the many ways that "the medicalized smartphone will democratize health care." The book's title —"The Patient Will See You Now — highlights how completely this new technology will turn the world of medicine upside down. You will soon be able "to perform an array of routine lab tests via your phone" and do so "at a fraction of the current cost." In fact, "It won't be long before you can take a smartphone X-ray selfie if you're worried that you might have broken a bone."
These changes are coming despite the resistance of Washington politicians and bureaucrats, because the tech industry is focused on meeting the pragmatic needs of patients. Fortunately, the rules governing telemedicine are established state-by-state allowing careful experimentation to develop best practices.
Similar transformations led by the culture and technology are coming to banking, autos, and education. Regardless of who wins the White House in November, the politicians will still be lagging behind.
To find out more about Scott Rasmussen and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: DonkeyHotey