To Your Health

Disease Care vs Health Care

"Escape Fire" is a film that sets our health care system ablaze.

Disease Care vs Health Care
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If you are or expect to be a recipient of health care in the United States in the near future, you need to see Escape Fire, a new film by Matt Heineman and Susan Froemke. It shows how our current medical system is focused on ‘disease care’ rather than ‘health care’ delivery. These director/producers, who have won awards for their HBO film on Alzheimer’s, propose more successful and preventative treatments, a win-win for both patients and our government’s pocketbook.

Access to health care is one of the major issues in the current presidential debates. The real question should be about what that access will provide for the 30 million people who are seeking medical coverage. Will the ability to tap into a fundamentally broken system solve one of the more acute problems facing our country? Not likely.

This film follows the dramatic stories of people who received unnecessary procedures and pills that didn't really help treat their underlying health problems. They include an Ohio woman in her 40s with heart disease who endured 7 stents that kept failing before she found a doctor who helped her lose weight and get her blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Another storyline focuses on a young wounded American veteran from the war in Afghanistan who was prescribed addictive painkillers in an Army hospital before his medivac flight back to the U.S. In dramatic footage, he is shown getting help from an innovative military program that uses alternative therapies, like acupuncture and meditation, to help soldiers get off and stay off dangerous prescription drugs.

Dr. Don Berwick, the retired director of Medicare and Medicaid, first publicized the term ”escape fire” in a manifesto about the future of health care, drawing a parallel between the broken health care system and a forest fire in which 13 fire fighters died clinging to the idea that they should keep running from the pursuing fire while one maverick came up with a novel solution. He set a fire to the grass around himself creating a fuel-free safe spot that ensured his survival.

Escape Fire makes the case for a paradigm shift in health care delivery. Health experts Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Dean Ornish are interviewed, voicing their ideas for changing the current care system. General David Fridovich, Retired Deputy Commander of US Special Forces, goes public about his personal battle with drugs in order to help other soldiers suffering from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder Another forward thinker, Steve Burd, president and chief executive of grocery giant Safeway, offers concrete financial incentives to his employees if they made healthy choices, discounting their health premiums if they achieved a body mass index less than 30. Confirmed non-smokers and individuals who maintained low cholesterol and blood pressure levels are also rewarded As a result Safeway’s health care costs stayed stable while the national average skyrocketed almost 400 percent!

Escape Fire can be seen in select theaters throughout the country. It is also available on itunes and video on demand. Recently it was screened at 60 medical schools around the country and the Pentagon.

Heineman, optimistic, yet cautious, says, “I think that change will happen. It cannot take place on the national level, but locally: institution by institution, community by community.” To Your Health!

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