“MMR causes autism.” “Gardasil makes girls promiscuous.” Today’s highly publicized debates about vaccines are often compared (unfavorably) to the heyday of vaccine development in the mid-twentieth century, when smallpox was eradicated and schoolchildren lined up by the millions to be protected against polio. At a time when presidential candidates are asked about their stance on vaccines and when famous comedians make internet videos about how their benefits outweigh their risks, it may be mete to recall that those campaigns were no less political or fraught with uncertainty.
As a practicing medical oncologist with a specialty in breast cancer for the past 22 years, I have been fortunate to see substantial advances in treatment. A majority of women are now diagnosed with early stage disease, and five-year survivals without recurrence for women with estrogen receptor positive stage I and II breast cancer now exceed 85-90%. The question I now deal with is not: “Will I survive this,” but rather, “What will it take to get me there?”
CMS has been actively promoting telehealth since 2000, when Social Security Act §1834(m) was adopted, and CMS has continued to expand the covered telehealth services. Pennsylvania is a late comer to the telehealth legislative field, but its proposed Telemedicine Act is a comprehensive payment parity and state licensing/enabling piece of legislation.
Many of us have crossed the hurdle where we are now referred to as “senior.” Thus, we have lived long enough so that we are able to embark on the journey referred to as the “golden years.” That term connotes that we will enjoy a life of leisure and pleasure which we have worked long and hard for. A bit of reflection perhaps will open our minds to what lays ahead and why the future may be not quite as smooth as we had expected. We have heard that being healthy will allow us to enjoy the many activities during retirement of which we have dreamed. However, pause for a moment and ponder as to how much health care spending goes to the elderly. I could list incessantly some of the problems that we may face – prostate, gynecologic, visual, musculoskeletal, mental health, gastro intestinal, and there are many more. Perhaps we may be fortunate and not develop the myriad of conditions which may afflict many senior citizens. Allow me to spend a few moments describing how and what I learned about the seniors in my life and practice.
Compassion is a word for a very positive emotion that has to do with being thoughtful and decent. When you have compassion, you’re putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and really feeling for them. When you feel compassion for someone, you really want to help them. Giving to a charity takes compassion. Volunteering to work with sick people or animals takes compassion. Anytime a disaster like a hurricane or earthquake hits, others will feel compassion for the victims.
It was only a matter of time. The recent announcement that GlaxoSmithKline bought a $300 million dollar stake in the leading genomics company 23andMe and now has exclusive rights to 23andMe’s DNA data for drug testing research should come as no surprise to those of you who have been watching the intersection of technology companies and genomics. DNA, the ultimate identifying personal information, is now a commodity like the rest of your data. It’s official: nothing is sacred.
DNA Database Risks to Privacy and Safety
Deval (Reshma) Paranjpe, MD, FACS
Amelia Paré, MD, FACS
Towers in Medicine
Anna Evans Phillips, MD
Perspective ........................ 302
Pharmaceutical Pricing in the United States of America: Disease or Symptom?
Bruce Wilder, MD, MPH, JD
Perspective ........................ 304
Caring for the Elderly Requires Compassion and Communication
Ed Kelly, MD
Perspective ........................ 306
In Aging Western PA...the Eyes Have It
Miguel A. Busquets, MD, FACS
Perspective ........................ 308
Kris Gopal, MD, FACS
Thank you to our attendees and sponsors for making this an outstanding evening!