policy

Healthcare’s Future: What Happened Since The Election

The elections of 2016 brought about a significant change in the way American healthcare was run in the previous years. ObamaCare slowly took a toll as Donald Trump made his way into presidency: “’17 is going to be a disaster cost-wise for Obamacare. It’s going to explode in ’17.” (ABC News) According to Trump, the healthcare system of the United States needed a lot of work and that is exactly what the president was aiming at- a brighter future for healthcare. Over the years, the growth in presidency brought about a growth in the health plans of individual citizens, however, recently Trump raised an uproar in the repealing of ObamaCare. This post will discuss the major changes that have been brought about as Donald Trump took over presidency and whether or not the Republicans insight of ObamaCare brought success. Here we will discuss the aims, challenges and the proposals that was brought in by the elections. However, to understand how the healthcare system made drastic changes in the recent years, it’s important to first understand what exactly the ObamaCare was. What is ObamaCare? To put it in very simple terms, ObamaCare is a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act made in 2010 which simply aims to make health insurance a mandatory option for every individual. Enacted by the 111th United States Congress, President Barak Obama finally turned it into a...

In Light of Recent Events: How CPR Can Help With Saving Lives

As a writer for this blog, I’m going to take this opportunity to discuss a topic that is not covered enough at most schools, and in society in general. I’m sure as most of you know, since the beginning of the year 2000, the United States has had a stunning increase in annual terrorist attacks, i.e. mass casualty incidents, in the eyes of health care providers. There have been over 400 documented terrorism-related cases and charges since 9/11/2001. Terrorist attacks such as the Virginia Tech, Columbine, San Bernardino, and Sandy Hook school shootings have left this country in a state of shock. Horrifyingly enough, the two deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history have occurred on 6/12/2016 and 10/1/2017, both in the past two years. The Pulse Night Club shooting led to the loss of at least 49 lives, with over 50 others injured. The Las Vegas shooting, which happened recently, left at least 58 people dead, and over 515 others injured. Take a moment and just re-read those last few sentences, let it sink in. Situations like these overwhelm the country, from both a medical and emotional standpoint, on a basis that is way to frequent for comfort. Many people will tell us that there’s really nothing we can do as “just pre-med students”, and they’re completely wrong. As a paramedic, there are 3 life-saving techniques that I think every...

How One Woman Pioneered Breast Cancer Research

The BRCA1 protein is a caretaker of the cell. When DNA becomes damaged, BRCA1 helps restore the DNA to its proper form or initiates program cell death if it is beyond repair. This ensures that cells maintain their intended function. However, if BRCA1 itself becomes damaged, it can no longer perform its essential role. Its importance is highlighted by the finding that when this occurs, there is a greater risk for developing cancer. Discovery of BRCA1’s relevance to cancer in 1990 was groundbreaking because it established that there is a genetic component to cancer, not just viral as commonly thought at the time. More so, it has allowed for screening for mutations in BRCA1 and the related BRCA2 gene that can identify at-risk women so they can receive life-saving treatments. These mutations are thought to be responsible for approximately 3-8% of breast cancer cases in the U.S. and up to 25% of inherited breast cancer. What may be even more remarkable than this discovery is the woman who discovered it, Mary-Claire King. Dr. King identified the BRCA1-cancer connection at a time when the idea of genes playing a role in cancer was radical. As a self-described “stubborn person”, she persisted and continued to push the idea forward. At the same time, she took on a leadership role as a scientist, despite training at a time when independent female scientists...

The Future Prescription Drugs Being Developed Right Now

At any one time, there are hundreds of drugs being developed around the world. Some of them could change the way we treat conditions such as lung cancer and asthma. Here are six drugs currently in development that have a real chance of finding their way onto shelves. Drugs are a very touchy subject for aspiring doctors — medical students have definitely taken the time to learn about prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical industry forms a big portion of the affairs that physicians carry out everyday. From the drugs prescribed to the clinical trials conducted, medicine is closely intermingled with the development and use of new medications. However, issues arise when the reporting on the safety, efficacy, and utility of these drugs remains undisclosed due to certain conventional procedures. If you are a medical student who has gone through clinical rotations, you might likely have had this experience (especially on the surgical floors). If you are just starting medical school, it’s something to look forward to! Medical students must also keep cognizant of the opioid epidemic. All it took was one-hundred words to kill over hundreds of thousands of Americans. A new report from the New England Journal of Medicine tells the story of how this short doctor’s note helped facilitate today’s American opioid epidemic. Read more about it here. Since opioids were not widely used forty years ago, so doctors did not have...

Drastic Times Call for Drastic Measures: The Opioid Epidemic and the Electronic Health Record

The over-prescription of medication has reached epidemic proportions. While politicians give speeches and draft legislature to address the opioid epidemic, the improper use of prescription medication impacts our society in many ways. For example, when a patient presents with a cold virus and is prescribed an antibiotic “just in case,” not only does the antibiotic cost the patient money, but it will have no effect on the cold virus. On a larger scale, these unnecessary antibiotics may encourage the evolution of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Most medical practices in America have adopted some sort of electronic health record system, but Americans have resisted a national electronic health record database, citing valid concerns about privacy and government overreach. However, Rumball-Smith et al., argue in JAMA that if carefully implemented and used wisely, the electronic health record (EHR) could address systematic problems when it comes to prescription drugs and “be a powerful vehicle for measurement and intervention around low-value care.” Image by mcfarlandmo / CC by 2.0 So why not implement a national database for electronic health records? The main advantage of this system is also the biggest threat – the ability to track information down the to the individual level presents an opportunity to intervene. But at what cost to privacy? A national EHR could show if a patient was soliciting pain medication from multiple doctors and flag that patient’s record. Or,...

What It’s Like To Advocate For Healthcare

Make your voice heard. With the ongoing healthcare debate, we are told again and again how valuable our voices are as docs and almost docs. But how do we make our voices heard? One way is to call your representatives. Another is to visit them. A number of medical organizations coordinate annual advocacy days on Capitol Hill for their members to attend. The benefit of meeting in person with Congressional representatives and their staff is that it can help us put a face on the healthcare workforce and establish ourselves as experts in the care of patients. It can create lasting relationships with these representatives that gives us the power to speak for our patients. This year was my third time attending one of these advocacy days held by the American College of Physicians. Yet, I can still remember the uncertainty I felt as I arrived at Washington, DC as a first-year student. Who am I to speak on what ails our healthcare system? What if I don’t know the exact policies? Luckily, the first day was designed to get me up to speed. I received outlines for each issue we were advocating for, including current related bills we should ask our representatives to support. I listened to policy experts speak about the issues and how to best speak about them. I watched example discussions with representatives so that...

Cultural Competency in Healthcare: What Is It and Why Do We Need It?

I was walking along a crowded street when a skinny, darkly colored man entered the flow of traffic in front of me. Looking back to see where he came from, I noticed a seemingly insignificant door at the base of a tall, weathered building. The scene wouldn’t have caught me off guard – a man simply exiting his workplace or home, perhaps – except for the blue and white NHS sign that was displayed on the brick exterior. I was in London, visiting a Bangladeshi community to learn about the social environment of this marginalized population. The man I had seen enter the street was most likely of Bangladeshi nationality given the brown color of his skin and his dark eyes. I was more interested in the building where he came from, though. The NHS label stood for National Health Service, the governing body that provides healthcare for the United Kingdom’s residents. My tour guide later explained that the building housed a free clinic for the homeless and low-income people in the area. Government-funded dollars provided access to healthcare, and I thought that was incredible. This ordinary scene on a rainy day in London, surrounded by people that look and speak very differently than me, started a cascade of thoughts on culture, health, and medical practice. I wanted to learn more about how culture influences healthcare. So, I did...

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