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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Solutions to Rising Healthcare Costs

Premiums for health care in the United States are expected to increase by 15% this year – a staggering sum, adding tens of billions more dollars to the trillion dollar plus of year 2001. The industry is rife with waste, duplication, mistakes, billing fraud, and malpractice. Countless studies have documented these patterns from the General Accounting Office to the Harvard Medical School.

But there are many solutions – some in pilot projects, others blocked by the rigidities, greed and lack of accountability in this sprawling business. A widespread problem in clinics, hospitals and HMOs is wrong diagnosis and the costs associated with unnecessary testing and treatments that flow therefrom and often result in injuries, fatalities and, less frequently, litigation.
A longtime practicing nephrologist, Dr. Nabil Moukheibir, spent three decades observing these problems in the area of kidney ailments. While practicing in Tennessee, he began to develop a unique, now patented, software system, which he demonstrates is “capable of scanning the medical file of a patient and responding within seconds by displaying a highly accurate diagnosis, a suggestion of appropriate tests and the treatment of the condition”. Its level of accuracy is based on a proprietary concept that does not rely on probabilistic approaches which impose a rigid “yes/no” system of questions on the patient.

In his field of kidney diseases, Dr. Moukheibir had tested the accuracy of his system in front of leading specialists and computer medicine experts at Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, Baylor Medical School, among others, and they were very impressed with its speed, accuracy and conceptual elegance. Dr. Warner Slack, a pioneer in computer medicine, associated with Harvard Medical School, saw how it works and called it “an excellent program which should help physicians in caring for their patients.”

The benefits are directed toward increasing the quality of care and reducing the cost of patient diagnosis and treatment. General practitioners are overwhelmed by the exponential growth of information. When patients come to them, these physicians need immediate assistance from a body of specialized knowledge that is up to date. So too do nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other skilled personnel on the front lines.

Early competence in diagnosis and treatment squeezes out tens of billions of dollars now expended on mistaken decisions and their harmful effects. It will improve productivity in the best patient sense and reduce the number of unnecessary referrals to specialists.

Since the overarching objective is to deliver higher quality of care to the patient at a lower cost. One would think that the large HMOs, the federal and state health agencies, and the insurance companies would be beating a path to Dr. Moukheibir’s door. So too one would expect the health sections of newspapers, magazines and medical publications to be curious. He has spoken to some of these institutions and written or called others who have not returned his calls. All to no avail. Yet trivial or dubious studies regarding health life styles make the national print news and television regularly.

A company that has a distinctly inferior product received a $3 million dollar grant from the federal government. A lone inventor doesn’t get the time of day with a real breakthrough, tested product. The Department of Energy for many years has had a small invention evaluation unit to receive and evaluate good ides of products fostering energy efficiency. The Department of Health and Human Services should have a similar unit forhealthcare inventions. There are an abundance of them languishing.

If you wish to learn more about Dr. Moukheibir’s software and its applications to other medical specialties, contact him at (E-mail:[email protected]).