Why is this subject, “Healthcare Upside Down,” important in the world?
We are being cheated in the healthcare that we receive in the United States today; everyone pays for healthcare, and none of us are getting the healthcare we pay for. If healthcare were a commodity, like buying an automobile, no one would agree to the terms of purchase we, as individuals and as a nation, are subjected to for our healthcare needs.
Healthcare is an integral function of society. It is fair to state that the inalienable rights proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are encompassed in healthcare. Before, during, and maybe even more so after COVID-19, US healthcare has become a depersonalized business, profitable for a very few, and paid for by the majority. Healthcare has negated freedom of choice of medical care, caregiver, and often therapeutic options. Healthcare pro bono and financial patient courtesy have been made illegal; indeed, healthcare is practiced without any courtesy whatsoever. Healthcare is practiced without personal independence by patients and physicians under the top-down dominance of a ruling administocracy.
What is the pressing issue right now, and how are you addressing it?
The pressing issue is that healthcare in the United States is currently upside down, with the patient at the bottom of the pyramid rather than rightfully at the top. I have tried to address this issue by writing my book – Healthcare Upside Down – in order to let us all work together to set healthcare right side up.
The opening moment of life – birth – involves healthcare for the mother and child. Growing up and achieving adulthood involve healthcare. Being able to live a mature life, work, love, and have children is dependent on healthcare. And the final chapter, aging, can be realized and even made pleasurable by healthcare. Healthcare is, therefore, integral to life from beginning to end. Healthcare is not a commodity but a necessity. Healthcare needs to be treated with respect. The establishment, practice, and financing of healthcare affect everyone, should not be neglected by anyone, and must be the concern of all of us.
Henry Buchwald Biography
What is your background in this subject?
I have been a doctor for 60 years, and during those years, at times, I have also been a patient. I’ve held the hands of my patients; I have been the one whose hand has been held. I have received trust and given trust. The therapeutic decisions my patients and I reached were not subject to the interdiction of a third party. I do not want to have my life’s role as a physician and surgeon, my joy in the process, usurped by an administocracy. As a patient, I do not want to hold hands with a robot and confide my health problems to a faceless entity. As a doctor, a patient, and a person, I reject the currently shattered doctor/patient relationship.
I earned my B.A. at Columbia College and my M.D. at the College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University. After serving as a Flight Surgeon in the Strategic Air Command, U.S. Air Force, I completed my training in surgery at the University of Minnesota, where I received my Ph.D. degree. I subsequently remained at the University of Minnesota as a Professor of Surgery and Biomedical Engineering and the first Owen H. and Sarah Davidson Wangensteen Chair in Experimental Surgery.
My career has encompassed being a clinician, an operating surgeon, a researcher, and a teacher. I was the Principal Investigator of the 20-year Program On the Surgical Control of Hyperlipidemias, the first randomized clinical trial to demonstrate that the operation that I initiated – partial ileal bypass – resulted in reductions in cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease, prolonging overall life expectancy. I am proud to have been a pioneer in bariatric surgery and the co-author and primary advocate of the concept of metabolic surgery. My work in bioengineering has resulted in the first implantable infusion pump used in insulin delivery and continuous arterial chemotherapy. Additional background data are available on my website: https://drhenrybuchwald.com.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
Being a surgeon, researcher, and innovator has been my career and has occupied most of my life. I do have a private life, however, which I spend with my wife of 67 years, four daughters and their spouses, and our six grandchildren. I’ve always loved music and reading, especially learning more about historical events. Apart from maintaining well-being, I have taken great joy in athletics. I played softball as a youngster, was a member of my high school-winning soccer team, swam varsity in college, and enjoyed tennis, skiing, running, and going to the gym. In addition, I have been riding horses since a boy and have participated in ranching activities of round-ups, etc. Family events and physical activities have, therefore, been my recreation; they have allowed me to return to my work refreshed and to take joy therein.
Are there any social causes that you believe in and support?
In addition to writing on healthcare, I support my wife’s literary publishing efforts as a past Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Milkweed Editions and, currently, the Gryphon Press, which is concerned with educating children about the animal and natural world they live in.
What is next for you?
In my writing outside of the medical field. I have just completed a biography of my father, who lived a most unusual, adventurous, and interesting life.
Healthcare Upside Down
Tell me about your book.
The narrative consists of the history, historical data, and personal experiences of the current healthcare system that has moved away from caring, first and foremost, for patients. The topics in this book provide and discuss healthcare statistics and the changing language of medicine. The chapters examine the medical school, the clinic, the office, the hospital, the practice, the payers, socialized medicine, the underprivileged, public health and pandemics, including COVID-19, and research, as well as the broken doctor/patient relationship, which is at the core of this current dilemma. Finally, the book offers thoughts on where future healthcare efforts can most fruitfully be expended and what ten different institutions can do to set healthcare right-side up again.
To start with: it is essential that we, as Americans, recognize that our healthcare system is far from optimal. The average American will not live as long as the average Italian or Australian. Americans are among the 35% of nations with the highest annual death rate. The average American has, with the exception of cancer, higher rates of heart diseases, respiratory diseases, and most other diseases. The chances of survival to the age of 1 year for an American newborn is below that of every European country, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and our neighbor, Canada. The average American has poorer healthcare leading to unnecessary deaths when compared to essentially the same “Western” societies. The average African American and Native American far worse than the rest of the nation. At the same time, the average American pays more for healthcare, and our nation spends more of our gross domestic product on healthcare than any country in the world.
Henry Mancini’s Malibu Beach Retreat(Opens in a new browser tab)
Where can people buy the book?
The book – Healthcare Upside Down – published by Springer, is available online from Amazon, Springer Books, VitalSource, RedShelf, Walmart, Google Books, Book Depository, Book Passage, Thrift Books, SandmanBooks.com, World of Books, Fruugo US, and several firms, as well as from retail bookstores, i.e., Barnes and Noble.
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