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Is Our Healthcare System Broken?

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Welcome to the discussion on one of the most critical aspects of societal development, healthcare. The healthcare system is the lifeline of any community, an essential pillar of the social welfare system, and a barometer of a society's wellbeing. Healthcare encompasses the effort to maintain, improve, or restore physical, emotional, and social well-being through prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from various illnesses.

It is a fundamental and indispensable human right that ensures people lead fulfilling lives free from the debilitating effects of sickness and premature deaths. However, the current state of healthcare has brought fundamental questions to the forefront, begging the question, "Is Our Healthcare System Broken?"

The Need for Change in the Current Healthcare System

The current healthcare system presents many problems that demand urgent attention. Although healthcare is considered a basic necessity, its high cost and limited access have made it a luxury available only to those who can afford it.

Low-income families, in particular, often face economic barriers that prevent them from accessing medical services. Many of them rely on public programs to support their healthcare needs, which are limited in scope, coverage and eligibility. Many others are forced to choose between paying for healthcare and basic necessities like food and shelter.

Adding to the healthcare system's complexity is the increasing burden of chronic illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, which have become more prevalent due to lifestyle choices, environmental factors, and other crucial factors.

Effective management of chronic illnesses requires expensive and complex procedures, often making healthcare even less accessible to those who need it the most. Additionally, chronic illnesses frequently require extended hospital stays, repeated medical tests, and follow-up appointments, further increasing the overall cost of health care services.

Furthermore, multiple studies have highlighted the significant disparity in healthcare coverage among social classes in the United States. Many individuals from underserved communities may lack the coverage necessary to access high-quality medical services, resulting in health complications remaining untreated or getting worse over time.

Inadequate healthcare coverage exacerbates existing inequities in access to healthcare across various socio-economic groups, with those who cannot afford healthcare often relying on emergency care, intended for routine care, which strains the system's resources.

These problems with the healthcare system highlight the urgent need for a new healthcare system that prioritizes equitable access to medical services. Until the system shows signs of change, many Americans will continue struggling to access vital medical services and the overall health of the nation will suffer.

The Importance of Preventive Care

Preventive care is an essential aspect of the healthcare system that aims to reduce the occurrence and progression of illnesses, thereby improving health outcomes. Preventive care comprises various measures, including regular health screenings, vaccinations, and lifestyle changes, that aim to detect health problems before they develop into more severe conditions.

The relevance of preventive care in the healthcare system cannot be overstated. The cost of treatment increases significantly when a medical condition goes undiagnosed, resulting in more severe health complications that ultimately require extensive and expensive treatment procedures.

Preventive care offers numerous benefits, including early detection of diseases, allowing health care providers to initiate treatment or develop preventive measures before a condition becomes severe. This ultimately leads to better health outcomes and a higher quality of life for the patients.

In addition to improving health outcomes, preventive care also plays a vital role in decreasing hospitalizations and overall healthcare costs. Research has shown that preventive care is much cheaper than treating a disease that has already developed. Preventive care measures, such as regular cancer screenings, can detect cancer at its early stages, allowing treatment to begin before it becomes too advanced, reducing the need for costly treatment interventions.

Another essential aspect of preventive care is vaccination. Vaccination is a preventive care measure that offers long-term health benefits, not just for individuals but also for society at large. Vaccines protect against infectious diseases that can lead to severe illness, disability, and even death. Vaccination programs have been highly successful in eradicating many debilitating diseases, such as smallpox, and significantly reducing the incidence rates of others, like measles and polio.

Overall, preventive care is a necessary aspect of the healthcare system that plays a crucial role in improving health outcomes, reducing healthcare costs, and promoting a healthy society. Investing in preventative measures such as vaccination campaigns, health screenings, and lifestyle changes, can ultimately save more lives and reduce the economic burden of the healthcare system.

The Need for a Patient-Centric Health Care System

The healthcare system is currently designed to cater primarily to the needs of healthcare providers. However, a patient-centric system seeks to change that dynamic. This model aims to meet patients' needs and preferences by making them the focus of the healthcare system.

There are multiple benefits to having a patient-centric health care system. For one, it provides more personalized care and treatment, which can go a long way in ensuring better health outcomes. Additionally, this approach can help improve patient satisfaction and enable long-term relationships between patients and their healthcare providers.

Patient experience research has been a crucial learning tool for creating a patient-centered healthcare system. It involves measuring patients' experiences of the health care system, taking feedback, and making necessary adjustments to meet patients' needs. For instance, research shows that patients feel more satisfied with healthcare when they can easily access and understand the information provided to them.

Patient engagement is also an essential component in building a patient-centric healthcare system. Engaging patients in their health care can improve communication, lead to better health outcomes, and reduce the cost of healthcare operations.

Lastly, the role of technology in a patient-centered healthcare system should also not be ignored. Technology can help identify patient needs, provide access to essential patient data, and aid in the tracking and monitoring of patients. Electronic health records, telehealth, patient portals, and smartphone applications are all technological solutions that can improve the patient-centered care experience.


In conclusion, our current healthcare system suffers from several issues that threaten our ability to deliver effective and efficient care to all individuals. Factors such as high healthcare costs, chronic illness management, unequal healthcare coverage among social classes, and lifestyle habits lead to suboptimal health outcomes.

To address these issues, improvements are necessary in the current healthcare system. This includes a shift towards a patient-centric system that puts emphasis on individual needs and preferences, provides preventive care, and incorporates patient engagement. Harnessing patient experience research and leveraging technology can also enhance the patient-centric experience.

Furthermore, addressing challenges such as healthcare inequality and cost barriers to healthcare should be a priority. The implementation of preventive care measures can bridge the gaps created by socioeconomic status, reducing the prevalence of chronic illness and unnecessary hospitalizations. Finally, enhancing access to healthcare and reducing costs must also be a priority.

In summary, creating a thriving, efficient, and effective healthcare system that works for everyone is a complex task. However, by adhering to the suggestions above, stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem can help build a system that delivers the best possible health outcomes for all individuals most effectively.

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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