Friday, June 24, 2011

Oh, just supersize that penicillin prescription, please

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - A story in today's Sacramento Bee newspaper details out a relatively new schtick for one medical plan - providing prescription drugs to patients via a vending-type machine.

The prescription drugs are pre-packaged, apparently, and with a punch-in code and identification, voila, out comes the drugs.
Sacramento Bee photo

The story is pretty sketchy, and reads a little like an advertisement for the Molina health plan. But the implications are vast.

Here's a link to the story: Supersize my penicillin, please

Perhaps in the U.S., this system might work, because pharmacists have been pretty well stripped of any ability to offer real advice about the drugs doctors have prescribed.

I recently went to a local pharmacy (ok, it was in a Wal-Mart, but we don't have many choices in Watkins Glen, NY) and while there, had some questions about the skin meds my dermatologist had ordered. The young woman at the counter said the pharmacist would need to talk to me but after waiting a good bit - and judging from how busy he was - I opted to simply read the instructions carefully.

Probably a good thing anyway.

Mexican pharmacy
In Mexico, pharmacists are frequently medical doctors who run a drug store as an adjunct to their practices. And even if the pharmacist doesn't hold a medical degree, in most small towns they offer a lot of medical advice.

And in my experience - even with the language barrier - they seem to know what they are talking about.

With prescription drugs being dispensed by a machine, how long will it before we can do the same thing with medical office visits? Just describe your symptoms to a computer-like device and it will spit out a diagnosis and, of course, send the prescription notice over to its sister machine, which has the drugs.

I may have already seen this system in a Star Trek episode.

But one big question is not answered in the story about the drugs-by-machine: Will this automated system result in lower medical costs and lower prescription costs?

I think we all know the answer to that one.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The problems with our economy explained - and drawn - by Robert Reich

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - The woes of the economy are evident around Central New York, but camouflaged by the beautiful scenery and the beginnings of summer.

But the number of people out of work is astounding.

And what about young people? (Anyone under 30 these days in my viewpoint.) Very few jobs for them, outside of tending bar (a prized occupation, actually) or some work in the tourist industry. If they have left the area and returned with an engineering degree or a medical degree, it's not that much better.

There's not that many jobs for engineers or doctors, even.

And at the same time, public agencies are cutting and cutting and cutting. The great schools here might have to settle for a not-so-great environment, if the cuts keep coming.

So what the %&E^*^*^ is going on?

Economist Robert Reich explains it in about 2 minutes. Two minutes. Really.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Needed, modern day Paul Revere to shout - The Climate is Changing! The Climate is Changing!

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - Sarah Palin's off-the-cuff remark about Paul Revere (she said he rode about Boston warning the British - hoo-boy!) help spark Amy Goodman to pen a great column about climate change.

Basically, she said, we need a modern-day Paul Revere to ride around shouting about how close to the precipice we are when it comes to changes in the world's climate. Tornadoes, weird temperature swings, hurricanes over the oceans, earthquakes and on and on....

Here's the link to her column: Paul Revere shouts, the Climate is Changing, the Climate is Changing

It's a well-written piece, analytical without being too preachy. But it also reminded me of a book I read not too long ago called The Long Emergency. It's as scary as any Stephen King tome. Actually, it's more frightening because you can see where we are likely headed.

The latest news about the likelihood of famines again this year - and how many hungry people are surging towards borders of nations where there is food - well, read Amy Goodman, then The Long Emergency. Then light a candle or two - at home or church.

Or maybe both.

Here's the author of The Long Emergency on what's happening to the economy today.

LINK: Hold on tight to what you have left