More than 50 percent of my day as a doctor is devoted to decoding pharmacy plans, complying with hospital standards, navigating insurance company requirements, and signing what feels like endless stacks of paper. Twenty of the 27 beds on my hospital “rounds” belong to patients experiencing homelessness. And earlier today, it took just over two hours to secure life-changing medication for a child with autism.
What for some is another day at the office, is for me an unwavering commitment to transform the way people experience healthcare. I believe every single person deserves to be served well and treated with great dignity. I also believe that Seattle, by harnessing our plentiful resources and spirit of innovation, can show the way forward to delivering healthcare quality for all. We simply have to decide and devote time and resources to doing it.
By investing $25 million a year in preventative healthcare, we can help to turn our system around at the local level. It will allow us to develop solutions leading to improved patient outcomes, and recouping more than $400 million of resources associated with medical waste and charity care at local hospitals.
Research has repeatedly proven that every dollar invested in primary care delivers a measureable return. These returns have included better health outcomes and decreases in the total cost of care in countries that have chosen to develop and maintain a robust public primary care system.
Given the current political will and climate, Seattle has the unique opportunity to lead the way in creating robust, accessible, affordable, high quality healthcare for all its residents. We have a strong network of Federal Qualified Health Centers in Seattle, and we have the resources to invest in innovation in those and other local centers. These innovations will lead to:
• Access and use of preventative care resources and practices
• Increased mental health and wellness services
• High quality care across racial and ethnic identity groups.
• Judgment free addiction treatment and recovery programs
• Patients who expect and experience compassionate and complete care in their most vulnerable moments.
• Lowered cost of care across our entire system.
With the Affordable Care Act under assault in Congress, so are the most vulnerable among us and the people who care for them. Investing $25 million a year in preventative healthcare at the local level is a real solution. With it, and Seattle’s spirit of innovation, we can show the way forward to delivering healthcare quality for all. Again, we simply have to decide to do it. Then we need to follow up with the time and resources to make it so.
When I went into family medicine and psychiatry, I wanted to know my patients, their families, and be a leader in my community. I wanted to care for all persons in need regardless of their age, illnesses, or access to resources. This is what I wanted then. It is what I want now. I believe Seattle can lead the way in making real and lasting healthcare change.
Dr. Hisam Goueli is running for City Council Position 8. He is board certified in family medicine and psychiatry.