William Katz:  Urgent Agenda






A NOTE FROM THE NANNY STATE – AT 9:34 A.M. ET:  While we are celebrating Thanksgiving, other nations are hard at work "improving" their societies.  They are doing so just before Obamacare takes effect in the United States.  Here's a late example of "improvement" in Britain.  Head for the hills.  From London's Express:

A BID to save nearly £3billion by slashing appointments with a doctor and treating patients via computer will put lives at risk, ministers were warned.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning a technological revolution that could spell the end of the traditional doctor’s surgery.

A new system of “virtual clinics” is being planned in which GPs connect with patients via iPads and Skype, an idea that NHS bosses are importing from India.

The reforms would save £2.9billion “almost immediately” and improve the lives of most patients, for example by avoiding the need to find child care during appointments, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said last week.
However, critics are concerned the initiative would create a two-tier NHS in which the less technologically able, particularly the elderly, would be left behind.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham called the plan “dangerous”, while Age UK said cutting the number of personal appointments would erode the vital trust between doctor and patient.

COMMENT:  There's no doubt that there's a place for new technology and means of communication in medicine.  But the personal relationship between physician and patient, it seems to me, is vital to maintaining care that is not only scientifically appropriate, but psychologically comforting. 

It is often said, by people pushing things like Facebook, that we are more connected now than ever before.  True, we are more connected by technology. But I've never seen technology replace the personal connections that make for neighborhoods and good societies. 

We are losing the human touch.  Many people today, especially where I live in New York, don't even know who their neighbors are.  Medical care, with the fears and anxieties it necessarily brings, is not the place to reduce personal contact, unless absolutely necessary, or unless new technology allows for improvement when a medical team isn't available. 

Technology, yes.  But wireless doesn't necessarily make a better society.

November 25,  2012