Health care in America is a particularly acute example of the disconnect between a 35,000 foot view and reality. Despite all of our innovation and best efforts, most Americans continue to be confused by their health care choices and mismanaged by their health care systems.
While I am encouraged by innovations in the health care system, I also believe that it is crucial to not let words, or the 35,000 foot view obscure the reality that most of our health care system is driven by acute episodes, is institutionally biased, and driven by clinical determinations that are often made at 35,000 feet.
On the ground, the world is much messier. Children are hungry, seniors struggle with the changes in their health and independence, countless Americans struggle with addiction, and the cold reality of life often overwhelm more academic pursuits.
It is time that we fully embrace and enhance the one system that consistently deals with reality— of the uncertainty of life, of the interconnectedness of medical and non-medical needs, and of the limitations of any one person or any one discipline in fixing what hurts. That system is hospice, and its person-centered, interdisciplinary gaze is exactly what we need more of today.
How many people in these circles and rectangles below me are struggling with depression? How many are struggling with addiction? How many are hungry? How many are worried about their ailing family member? We need a system that zooms in on the harsh reality of life, and treats people with compassion and understanding. Not simply from behind a call center, adjudicating claims, managing risk, not on Facebook or via an app, but in real life. Hospice is such a system – connecting to the heart and soul of humanity. There are few others.
Hospice is busting out of its square because it never belonged in it to begin with. In the coming months, I will be speaking more about how we are going to evolve and provide our real care to many more folks, much earlier. I’m honored to be working with our teams of caregivers, volunteers, nurses, chaplains, social workers, therapists of all kinds, and everybody else that provides real care to real people every day. Thank you for keeping it real.
Edo Banach, JD
President and CEO
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization