Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Hard Sell

Amy Tenderich (@ Diabetes Mine) recently wrote a thoughtful post about the difference between referring to people as "consumers" or "patients" when they interact with the health care system. After I threw in my ill-conceived two red pennies, I started thinking about what the logical extension of the trend to label our patients as "consumers" would be. And, of course given the way my mind tends to work, what the far-fetched, illogical extension would be. This being America, I think we need look no farther than day-time teevee for the answers. After all, we approach consumers ........ with advertising!

Yep, I'm talking infomercials and TV pitchmen. I can see in the not too distant future these type of pitches.


"HI! BILLY MAYS HERE! IF YOU'RE HAVING PROBLEMS WITH HARD STOOL BUILDUP CAUSING DIVERTICULITIS, NOT TO MENTION HEMORRHOIDS, THEN YOU NEED THE AMAZING NEW BOHINEY BLASTER® COLON CLEANSE KIT! USE THIS STUFF ON FILTHY BOWELS AND IT GETS OUT CRAP THAT'S BEEN IN THERE SINCE THE NIXON ADMINISTRATION! IF YOU'VE GOT THAT HARD-TO-GET-RID-OF ROCK HARD STOOL, THEN BOHINEY BLAST® IT RIGHT ON OUT OF THERE! IT'S GOT THE POWER TO BREAK DOWN AND DISSOLVE: POOP, UNDIGESTED POPCORN, AND THE COIN YOU SWALLOWED PLAYING QUARTERS IN COLLEGE!

OTHER CLEANSERS HAVE TERRIBLE ODORS --- NOT BOHINEY BLASTER®! IT HAS A FRESH BUBBLEGUM SCENT WITH A HINT OF MERLOT! USE IT IN THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME, OR CARRY SOME TO WORK FOR THOSE TOUGH DAYS! YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT CAN BE WHEN YOU'RE CARRYING A LOAD AND YOU HAVE A MEETING WITH THE CFO TO GO OVER NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET!

THIS STUFF HAS THE POWER OF A SMALL THERMONUCLEAR WEAPON, BUT IT CAN BE SENT TO YOUR HOME TODAY FOR ONLY $19.99 A BOTTLE. BUT IF YOU ACT NOW, WE'LL SEND YOU TWO BOHINEY BLASTERS® AND THROW IN NOT ONE, BUT TWO OF OUR SPECIALLY PREPARED GRAB, YANK AND GO® HOME HEMORRHOIDECTOMY KITS!



Hi! It's Vince from ShamSurgery©! This is the self-surgery kit for the hernia. The perirectal abscess. The skin cancer. A regular surgery kit doesn't work wet. Not the new ShamSurgery©! It works wet or dry, whether you're performing self-surgery in the shower or on your kitchen table! Doesn't drip! Doesn't make a mess! When you're done, you wash it in the washing machine!

Here's a big perirectal abscess. That is going to be a real problem for the average surgery kit. Look at this --- with the adjustable set of mirrors, you can get back there in no time and get to work. You following me, camera guy? No other surgery kit is going to do that!

You're going to spend $20 every month on doctor copays anyway. To me, the ShamSurgery© kit is for everyday use! You get four ShamSurgery© kits for $19.95. If you call now, you get a second set, absolutely free. That's eight ShamSurgery© kits for just $19.95! It comes with a 10 minute warranty --- here's how to order!



Have you ever wanted to get that great, stretched-as-tight-as-Spandex-on-Roseanne Barr face lift? Well, I'm Ron Pepool, and I'm here to tell you today that your prayers have been answered! Today, we'd like to introduce you to the Robco Facial Carver and Dehydration System®.

This is truly revolutionary --- a device that allows even the most casually interested homemaker to become a surgeon par excellence. Let's look at the inner workings of this fabulous product. The knives are stainless steel, and sharp! (Crowd goes Whoo!) Why, without this you'd have to get pure obsidian to slice your skin that swiftly. You can carve off 4 and 1/2 pounds of fat from your face, or two 2 pound neck rolls! When you're done, the patented Facial Dehyrator will let all that left over juice and blood from surgery drip into the special collecting pan (whoo!), all while causing your skin to contract like Shrinky Dinks in a blast furnace!

Now, a system such as this is worth at least $500, but how much do you think you'd have to pay for such fabulous technology, and where can you get the set? First, let's review what you get -- Robco Facial Carver and Dehydration System® comes complete with a dozen stainless steel scalpels, a pair of sterile gloves, a dozen packs of suture, a Jackson-Pratt drain, and a one-size-fits-all facial burn dressing. Remember that the patented Facial Dehyrator is made of stainless steel-lined plastic, and comes with 3 reusable drip trays. So, how much is all of this worth? (A shout for $400). You know you're not going to have to spend $400! Not $375. Not $300. This revolutionary system can be yours today for just 4 easy payments of $39.95.

But wait! There's more! If you call today, we'll throw in the new Pepool Pocket Appendectomizer absolutely free. You know you'd rather be able to take care of a pesky case of appendicitis in the comfort of your own home than to head to an emergency room. This nifty device includes a veritable Swiss Army knife collection of tools, such as a corkscrew to stick into and lift the abdominal wall while you root around your belly trying to grab that little guy with the Robco Appendix Clamp. But you have to call now, because you know that this deal just can't last! (thunderous applause from the crowd)


Do you need surgery? Does the idea of forking over cash just to get that pesky coronary bypass out of the way irritate you? Well, for the last 30 years I have been working on ways to get YOU free operating room equipment! That's right! I went through all of the IRS documents, all of the Facebook pages of hospital CEOs, and every tax return filed in the past 75 years to make sure YOU get FREE SURGERY EQUIPMENT! How do you qualify? All you need is a Social Security number, $3,000 in annual income, and more gullibility than an Obama voter expecting a tax cut!



Tired of those other kitchen table surgery sets that get dull with use? Have a family member who is a little on the overweight side, and you just can't get down to the abdomen with your worn out, dull scalpels that constantly need sharpening? Well, YOU need the Ginsu Home Surgical Knife Set! It's the Sharpest Scalpel Set on the Market! Skin? Fat? Muscle? Bone? No problem! The Ginsu Home Surgical Knife Set will cut through it faster than Plaxico Burress goes through an ammo clip with his 9mm pistol.




How many times has this happened to you? Your kids all need their tonsils out! You are trying to come up with an exciting new way to get them to let you operate on them! You could go the standard route, tie them down, give them a slug of Everclear, and get to work. But why bother, now that you can use Rodco's amazing new home surgical tool, the Super Tonsill-o-matic 76! Yes, home surgeons, the days of roping your family members to the kitchen table are over because the Super Tonsill-o-matic 76 is so fast and easy to use you just need to give them a sniff of glue to briefly stun them, and away you go! The Super Tonsill-o-matic 76 will grab and blend those puppies into mush in no time!


Consumers. Merchants. Customers. Providers. Bullshit.

I dusted off my diploma, and put on my reading glasses (getting old, dammit), and looked hard. It says that I graduated from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School (AKA The Best Medical School in the Country®). I checked their web site, and no, it still does not call itself a Provider School, churning out "providers" who deal with "consumers."

Although I am a small businessman, and have the tax headaches to prove it, my business is different than, say, selling shoes. It is my privilege and duty to care for people who come to see me ---- as patients. There is a respect involved with that term which is absent from the term consumer, and which is important in maintaining the dignity of the individual as he or she interacts with physicians, hospitals, and other places where medical care is delivered. When we lose that perspective ---- when physicians are seen only as "providers," or interchangeable widgets, and when patients are seen only as "consumers" ---- we will have totally lost any semblance of dignity as a profession, and by extension as a people.