|My question since 2008|
Love needs a billing code
I tweeted this in the spring of 2008 at Health 2.0 Conference in Boston. Since then these words have been echoed, referenced and morphed by many friends and even by some I've never met in the industry.
Love needs a billing code brings the idea of care and healing back to simple. It rallies good people working in this space, reminding us why we started in health care in the first place. The expression is activating too. It makes explicit a core value "To Love" that most of us presume is already present as an under layer in health transactions.
Love is not an industry standard. The presumption that love is integrated into most health care transactions is flawed. I am tempted to be flip and to say that profit is the reliable standard at work in the industry. While there is good reason to utter such a phrase, I know my tired soul is talking and I don't want to give voice to broken things. I continue to dream the possibility of a more loving system end to end. One that is as big for love as it is in love with big data.
There are moments of love in today's health centers, doctors’ offices, and hospitals. We see miracles and extraordinary feats of humanity so great that we cry every time we encounter them. But my experience is that our health care ecosystem is unloving and … quite frankly … unlovable.
So why is there not a billing code to measure the caring potency of a health care encounter? Why is this idea dismissed as silly, as lacking gravitas, or as poorly matched with western medicine? Is love considered a downstream transaction? First see the doctor and then find the love you’ll need to heal?
We have walked on the moon, created unmanned drones to hit micro-targets far away, spent millions on challenges and prizes promoting health innovation, and yet we turn away from measuring the impact of love on the doctor and the patient. Why? This is a crime of omission.
What would happen when love met medicine? Would it lead to nefarious intent and abuse of power? Or would it perhaps be instrumental in creating a shift in consciousness? A shift inviting us to learn how to tolerate the unbearable losses and unexplained graces life, death and medicine bring into our lives.
What if love had a billing code?