Selling Sickness 2013

selling sickness and right care

Kim and I (LT) attended the 2nd Lown Conference “From Avoidable Care to Right Care” in Boston last week.

This event marked the end of a high water mark year for multidisciplinary conferences on overdiagnosis and disease-mongering that brought together physicians, consumer activists, non-physician professionals, payors, and carers. Clearly, a new social health movement is building.

As Kim wrote here on May 20, meetings within the consumer activist world occur all the time (cf. the recent 20th anniversary of the influential Consumers Union Safe Patient Project), but what we need are more opportunities for partnerships among the many stakeholders and constituencies.

The Lown conference afforded me many memorable experiences and new ideas, including:

  • A chance to see the remarkable nonagenarian physician and peace activist, Bernard Lown, author of The Lost Art of Healing (READ THIS FASCINATING BOOK!)
  • A Town Hall simulation that demonstrated in an hour how 30 citizens with widely diverging viewpoints can engage in meaningful dialog about health care overuse
  • Novel  values-driven medical education projects aimed at global awareness and humanism
  • International projects challenging overuse in diverse cultural settings
  • How and why to continue the campaign for single payer health insurance
  • Cultural tropes to challenge – more is better, newer is better, health is the domain of medicine
  • Many ways to challenge market-based healthcare in theory, practice, education, and collaboration
  • The devastating impact of escalating health insurance costs on the budget of small towns such as China, Maine

The conference organizers have a Declaration of Principles you can sign online which reiterates the moral tone of the conference – health care is a human right. It is a strong way to end a groundbreaking year but we also need to continue to stress the need to cultivate  relationships based on mutual respect for diverse sources of knowledge. More voices, more perspectives.

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