Eleanor Wickersham’s experience with the failings of the medical world set the tone for a Columbia forum Thursday on health – care reform.
Years ago, Wickersham said, she was taken to the hospital for a gall bladder emergency. She said that because someone from her health insurance company was unavailable to speak to the hospital, she waited in the hall on a stretcher for eight hours before anything could be done.
Hers was one of the experiences raised among about 20 forum participants discussing three approaches for fixing problems in the current health–care system. The first was to connect the pieces of the system so they run in an organized fashion. Creating a system for sharing patient information between medical professionals was suggested.
The second approach focused on making patients more equal partners with their doctors. Forum attendees agreed that preventive education was the way to do this, whether in the schools or the doctor’s office. Attendees said they want doctors to provide information, but ultimately patients would make decisions.
The third approach suggested offering the same care for all people. This idea focused on erasing lines of discrimination between the system and its patients.
Gwen Ratermann, director of health policy for University of Missouri Health Care, gave her opinion on what would put the system on the right track for providing quality service to patients: “When I look at all three approaches, I don’t think any one of them hold the answer. I think it is a combination of the three.”