Whether low-tech or high-tech, there are many exciting new frontiers in medicine. But how much of it will one-size-fits-all regulators and their corporate cronies allow to see the light of day?
In part 1 of our series, we discussed how Medicare is run by billing codes that often prevent some essential services such as accessing healthcare through phone and email (especially important in today’s technology-driven world).
In part 2, we reported on FDA’s plan to pre-approve medical and smartphone apps, which will make them impossibly expensive. Basically, a whole new frontier of medicine will be shut down for the convenience of government and big drug companies.
In part 3, we continue to highlight some major potential technological advances for medicine identified by leading health policy analyst John Goodman—advances that may be throttled by government regulation, especially government regulation contaminated by crony capitalism.
As a general rule, we at ANH are highlighting the gains to be made from low-tech medicine, based on food, supplements, and lifestyle. For example, we don’t understand why conventional doctors refuse to use garlic to treat food poisoning, even when conventional and potentially harmful antibiotics have totally failed to cure a patient.
But all of this—including the use of garlic—depends on excellent, cutting-edge science. And we aren’t at all opposed to sensible medical technology breakthroughs, especially when they are as basic as smartphone apps, and we don’t like the FDA throttling these any more than we like the FDA throttling natural medicine.
Here are some of the additional technologies that John Goodman has mentioned recently:
- Sensors—implantable or attachable devices that can monitor the conditions of diabetics, asthmatics, heart patients, and patients with numerous other chronic conditions—will allow patients and doctors to modify therapeutic regimens and tailor treatments to individual needs and responses.
- Genetic testing to see if a patient’s own genes indicate that she or he should take certain drugs or avoid other drugs, tailoring medical treatment to personal needs in a dramatic way.
These could be exciting advances—but they run afoul of government rules and regulations:
- To get paid—whether for implanting a sensor or for conducting a genetic test—there has to be a Medicare billing code. If the product or the test is new, getting Medicare to create a new billing code for it can take a long time and cost a significant amount of money.
- Even if there is already a billing code, Medicare must agree to pay for the service. In general, Medicare has not been willing to pay for genetic testing (except in screening for compatibility for kidney and bone marrow transplants), and it is certainly unwilling to do the level of genetic testing needed to do truly personalized medicine.
- Congress has imposed price controls on what Medicare can pay laboratories that conduct genetic testing. So the number and extent of the tests themselves will necessarily be limited.
- Clinical trials are time-consuming and expensive. But the bigger problem is that with personalized medicine, doctors are going to react to the information the sensor provides and change their therapy accordingly. As a result, every patient in the clinical trial could be treated differently—which defeats the whole purpose of a trial. Since random-controlled trials are the “gold standard,” RCTs will be kept, and personalized medicine will be jettisoned.
- Out-of-date and inflexible malpractice laws complicate matters because an electronic sensor can send the doctor a great deal of data at any time day or night. Some doctors worry that buried in the data could be information that the doctor doesn’t see. If a problem later develops, a lawyer might argue that he should have seen it. And that means many doctors simply won’t use sensors, just to be on the safe side.
As John Goodman also points out, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with its emphasis on pilot programs and demonstration projects, is supposed to promote “evidence-based care.” But in reality it requires standardization and a one-size-fits-all approach.
Dr. Richard N. Fogoros, a former professor of medicine and a longtime practitioner, researcher, and author in the fields of cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology, puts it this way: “The role of the doctor is now to relay expert-guided determinations of what is best for the herd down to the level of individual patient, and to do so in such a way that their patients do not realize that the doctor’s recommendations are population-based, and not tailored to their own needs.”
This is one brave new world that we do not need. But only by working together to reform government and the FDA can we prevent it.
Medicare and medical does pay for the gene testing oft the autoimmune disease, Celiac Disease. But doctors will not use this test. Patients usually have to do this on their own. Some insurance companies pay for some or a very few pay for all. Researchers are now saying there are 21 million people in the United States that have Celiac or Gluten Sensitivity. There are 300 symptoms Researchers have tied over 20 genes to different autoimmune diseases.This is not being diagnosed by doctors because there is no medicine. The complete cure is a Gluten Free diet.
I have to point out that when I was going through tests to discover my health issues, my test for the two markers for Celiac disease WAS paid for by my insurance company–and also for my daughter. This test was the definitive proof we needed to know that we suffer from gluten intolerance and not (nor will we ever because we lack the genes) from Celiac disease.
I would say it’s up to each individual doctor as to whether or not they will send out this test for you. It only gets done at a few select laboratories in the USA, which might be why so many doctors don’t test; they don’t want to go through the hassle.
But I do agree with you that not enough doctors take their patients seriously, and when issues have to do with food/nutrition, they’d rather you never came to see them. Because like you said, they don’t make any money off you when the “cure” is to cut out eating a certain food category.
However, if you do have Celiac disease, doctors like you better than if you have gluten intolerance. Because Celiac is actually seen and coded as a “dis-ease,” and an auto immune one at that. Therefore, doctors make money by getting you in for follow-up visits, sending you to see specific specialists, giving you drugs to help with other auto immune issues you might have because of Celiac, etc.
As a person with gluten intolerance, I get NO HELP at all from the allopathic community. All of my medical help comes from the alternative healthcare community–and comes out of my own pocket financially.
For that reason alone, I advocate that EVERY medical/healing modality be covered by health insurance, NOT just allopathic care.
Colloidal silver and MMS are two exremely powerful and versatile therapies which cannot be patented, so the FDA is working to suppress them. Most know of colloidal silver, and here’s a word on Master Mineral Solution. It is a way of making and safely using the very potent germicide chlorine dioxide in the human body. Made and used this way, it is safe for human tissues but deadly to virtually all pathogens. It is cheap and stores well. It’s discoveror and strong and altruistic advocate is geologist Jim Humble, whose objective was to protect his workers in the jungle. His defense against the FDA is to form a church with MMS as its healing sacrament, and depend on the separation of church and state. This, and moving his teaching activities out of the US.
I recommend you check it out at http://www.jimhumble.biz
The FDA, in my opinion, tries to eliminate countless low cost, successful risk-free medical treatments in its efforts to protect “Big Pharma” (huge pharmaceutical manufacturers) from legitimate competition. By this action the FDA keeps medical care in the dark ages with barbarous treatments like chemotherapy that kill rather than cure. The FDA supresses safe and effective cancer treatments like those of Dr. Burzinsky in Houston, Texas; intravenous vitamin C and oxidative therapies; and ultraviolet blood irradiation (UBI) that can cure the most deadly infections.
It is high time that naturopathic medical care should be covered by all so-called medical insurance plans so that real cures and not our present disease prolonging system can get this country out of the medical dark ages.
Billing codes were developed by the AMA which decides when new codes are added and gets a royalty from anyone who uses them for commercial purposes.
Anything without a billing code can always be billed as a miscellaneous or experimental charge. CMS (Medicare), TriCare and Medicaid may honor miscellaneous charges for small amounts but reject experimental treatments. Commercial insurance, including the ACA insurance exchanges follow CMS.
The ACA must establish a board to report the relative safety and effectiveness of treatments. Their duty is like that of the non-profit Cochrane Collaboration: to collect statistical evidence to determine which treatments are effective and which are ineffective.
Physicians may prescribe a treatment deemed ineffective by Cochrane, especially since most prescribing is based on individual physician experience and perhaps traditions from internship. Physicians do drop less effective treatments and adopt more effective ones. Whatever is effective will eventually merit an AMA billing code.
Neither AMA nor Cochrane nor the panel ignore genomics and personalized medicine (GPM). The field lacks readily-available population-based evidence about clinical utility. Cochrane is working with the CDC Office of Public Health Genomics and the Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention (EGAPP) Working Group to develop systematic review methods in GPM, using a systematic review of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) related tests in guiding monoclonal antibody treatment in colorectal cancer as a case example.
The study does not require that each monoclonal antibody pass an RCT, only that the tests reliably assist clinicians in determining the subset of patients who will benefit from a given treatment. A treatment that is statistically useless for the general population might be miraculous for a tiny subset that could be identified by a genetic test. The test would rescue the otherwise failing treatment.
Some physicians will claim that statistical results are one-size-fits-all and do not apply to their patient base. How do they know that? Most physician experience suffers from confirmation bias where successes are remembered longer than failures. Until there is a test or tests reliably separate the typical responders from the atypical, that physician’s opinion may be no more reliable than yours or mine.
One-size-fits-all approach is ridiculous, from the start.. I am 87 years of age, in good health because I decided some years ago to forego traditional medicine and engage a private integrative physician (M.D.) who did comprehensive testing of my blood chemistry and bodily functions, determining where there were insufficiencies or overages of needed elements and recommended remedial vitamin/mineral/herbal remedies. Medicare covered some of the tests, but not all, nor did it cover my doctor’s visits. Now, I’m not wealthy, living on a Social Security stipend, but I believed this approach was the only sensible way to maintain my health, and that it was worth doing without other things in order to get it right. I also eat organically-grown/raised foods, have been on this track for 13 years, and have yet to have had to see another doctor for any reason other than a whiplash from a car accident. I have moved to another state, but get yearly checkups from him via his orders for certain tests which I have done at local labs and then follow up with a 1/2 phone conference on the results. I live on the 4th floor of a senior housing complex, and take the stairs, rather than elevator. I also manage a community organic vegetable garden that serves our complex. and am refurbishing a couple of flower gardens that had grown up in weeds. If I am not evidence of good results from staying away from conventional medicine and pharmaceuticals, then I would like to know who can improve on this approach.
you are awesome! thanks for posting…
I applaud you– You are what I am trying to achieve — Professional medicine is designed to get you sick by taking prescription drugs and keep you sick by constantly have to take MORE PRESCRIPTION drugs to fight off effects from the other ones. By that time the body is so screwed up it has no idea what it should do anymore.
I have ankylosing spondylitis,gout, and osteoarthritis but have switched all my eating to organic have a garden where I raise organic vegetables and take supplements that address my needs. The one sized fits all approach does not work. I was on statins for awhile and had gotten so sick I threw them away and will never take anything like that again
By the way my grandparent all grew up prior to and worked during the depression, everything fried in lard, slaughtered the animal on the farm and stored it in a crock covered with lard and in a salt brine.
They all lived to mid 80’s and one grandma to 97.
The natural way is the only way
Good for you! I admire your determination to stay away from conventional medicine. It almost killed me a couple of times in my life, too. I did my own research about fifteen years back and did nearly the same things you did. I do have a request of you. Will you send me the name of the integrative physician you use? The one I used to see is retired and no longer sees patients. I would like to have some testig to see what I need to balance since it has been awhile. Thanks!
Emily: Thank you for your comment. I would very much appreciate some clarification. First, what do you mean/what IS a private integrative physician? I have never heard the phrase before. And I am encouraged by your comments and would like to explore the path you have taken. I am 68 and my husband is 81. He has very long lived genetics, but is presently dying by inches of his serious lung problems. I KNOW in my heart and head that he is simply not getting adequate care that takes into account HIS body and HIS needs. My doctor just put him on a new just released medicine that is helping his lungs but also has a mess of awful side effects: depression, nausea, lack of appitite, dizziness, sleeplessness. I’m watching him withdraw from life allegedly to “save” his life. Kindly just let me know what a private integrative physician is, so I can get started and maybe save my beloved partners life. And thanks.
Don’t know if you found the answer yet but a private integrative physician is one who uses both mainstream and natural healing techniques to tailor treatment to the patients specific needs. Also known as naturopathic doctors, these more often use natural less invasive protocols to heal that produce little if any side effects. The following link will help you find one near you:
Getting up in age is scary enough but finding a doctor who really cares is even scarier these days. Hope this helps you.
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