A Time Traveler?

January 5th, 2023 by Nick Jacobs Leave a reply »

For the past 30 years, I’ve felt like a healthcare time-traveler.

Maybe that was because I took such a circuitous route getting there through education, the arts, and tourism, or maybe it was because I’m a musician whose brain was just wired differently.

Regardless, I’ve spent the past three decades proposing ideas that may or may not someday be implemented.

This afternoon, I ran across an article that I had written a decade ago that began with an idea I had been cultivating for 16 years.

It started with this sentence: Periodically, my life intersects with certain realities that previously did not seem to even be a consideration.

This article was about a potential project that involved the networking of approximately 20 rural hospitals via web connectivity.

The purpose of the network was to create a virtual health system that was not dominated by one super tertiary power, the normal health system model which is an ego-centric model that typically takes away the “Community” from community health care.

The network of small rural hospitals that I was studying had, in order to meet their overnight radiology needs, spent about $21 million for teleradiology connectivity to Australia.

My proposal suggested not limiting this to radiology. With that in mind, I proposed the viability of web based technology for cardiology, dermatology, oncology, and a dozen other specialities via telemedicine.

That very day, I saw an article by Christopher Lawton of the Wall Street Journal, who wrote “Cough, Cough. Is There A Doctor in the Mouse?” regarding the use of web services that allows patients to communicate with doctors via online video, text, chat or phone.

The year was 2009.

The organization I proposed this solution to rejected it as too progressive and today those 20 hospitals are still struggling to provide advanced specialty services.

Meanwhile, as we attempted to navigate COVID-19, telemedicine became not only popular but was also funded by insurance and has become extremely essential and life-saving.

About five years ago, I was tasked with creating an international seminar on integrative psychiatry which was aired on PBS in the Greater New York City area.

We had psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, patients, and patient families who heard medical doctors from numerous foreign countries and the United States describe the incredible progress they had made with patients when they introduced integrative modalities to their practices.

These included music, art, movement, and meditation as part of their treatment plans.

Nothing big came out of that ground-breaking program either.

My next big effort was in pharmacogenomics where scientists test 300 of your 30,000 genes and then can tell you definitively which medications will or will not personally work for you. Twenty years later, that science is just beginning to be taught in pharmacy schools.

These types of rejected ideas have often made me wonder what my purpose was here on this planet. If leadership didn’t respond, if they listened but didn’t act, what good was it to be a thought-leader whose programs were clearly directed toward the future?

Then it hit me. I was put here to plant seeds, to make people think, to explore not what is but what could be.

It was only a few years ago when I offered two programs on Blue Zones at the Connellsville Canteen and Fayette County picked up on that theme and is making progress in this area of healthy living.

Consequently, I’m going to continue to try to get people to look ahead to ideas that could make our lives better, to challenge our status quo, to think positively.

Maybe like Johnny Appleseed who was credited with planting apple trees in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia and Ontario, that vision to plant trees that would flourish after he was no longer there to enjoy them seems like a reasonable plan with a positive outcome.


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