One of my patients asked me, can you cure diabetes? I said I cannot. But I said why you have to cure something that you can prevent? This encounter made me to tell a story.
Bian Que, (401-310BC), was the earliest known Chinese physician. Once a king (Wei Wen King) asked him, ?you three brothers are all good at medicine, who is the best??
Bian Que said, ?my oldest brother is the best, my second old brother is the second best and I am the average doctor.?
The king asked, ?Please tell me why, in my knowledge, you are the most well known one.?
Bian Que explained, ?my oldest brother looks after the people where he lives. He teach people to maintain healthy lifestyle, eliminates the causes of illness before it cause any problem. So He is not well known but we know this in our family.?(primary prevention)
?My second brother treats patients at the early phase of their illnesses when they are not severe. So people think he can only treat small problems.? (secondary prevention)
?Myself, by contrast, treats illnesses when they are already very severe. People saw me doing surgery, using a lot drugs, bloodletting etc. They think I am very good so I become famous nationwide.?(tertiary prevention)
The king nodded, ?I see.?
This ancient story makes perfect sense in the modern world. With the ever-increasing cost of health care, ?treat the healthy ones? through education, legislation, immunization etc. is the most cost-effective strategy for the burdened health care system. Increasing the cost to see GP (e.g. 7 dollar co-payment) will not help the budget deficit, but more likely increase the cost in the long term by waiting for the worst to happen.
The best health care system is the efficient system ? minimizing the wasted part of the health care fund. This can only be implement through medical professionals, not through patients. The Abbot-Hocky budget has the wrong target!