Health reform: For amateurs too?

We played "Kid's Topics" in the car on our way home from a long trip a few days ago. One of the cards queried, "What makes you feel better when you are sick?"

My son, age 8, blurted, "Sipping Coke sometimes helps!" My daughter said, "Getting hugs from my mom." They both agreed that "Resting on the couch with the TV on," also felt good when they felt bad.

So simple. These remedies are the things we have taught them to feel good about doing when they are home from school with an infection of some kind. "Take a sip of this warm Coke." "Rest here on the couch and I'll put on Animal Planet." Etc., etc.

Right or wrong from an evidence-based perspective, as parents we build and transmit our nations health culture. Period.

In the conscious minds of most of laypeople, what most of us identify as healing is not what experts purport, but what we are taught to believe in, right or wrong. Sometimes there is overlap, but not always. The disparities are cultural issues - not just educational/economic gaps - and, unfortunately, seem to have little to do with health care and health care rationing as it is being discussed today in the Federal arena.

Amateurs need a say in the health care debate in order to make this work.

In a wonderful piece, "The Avenging Amateur," a Time Magazine editorial by Kurt Andersen, historian Daniel Boorstin is quoted as saying, "The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."

How true the existence of the "Illusion of Knowledge" has turned out to be in recent health care reform debates, even those on supposed "Social" channels, such as Twitter.

Unfortunately, without reforms that acknowledge and revise cultural expectations and underpinnings, we will have a hard time realizing health reform in this county. We may reform an aspect of the system -- the work flow, the billing -- but we will miss a tremendous opportunity for real reform if we do not develop a way to work on the cultural level.

When I contemplate what Obama's health care reform program (i.e., the money he's put on the table) might mean, I get the chills. To an amateur, it is simply a mind-blowing opportunity to engineer not just new work flows, but new meanings too.

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