Healthcare in the U.S has evolved from a simple to a complex system. Several changes and improvements from one generation to another have been observed. This has been prompted by the advancing technology and innovations that are being achieved every day. The medical industry has carried out millions of research and trials in an attempt to come up with improved diagnosis and treatments of the ever emerging diseases. Interview responds from three generation representatives show a continuous transformation in the medical industry.
In an attempt to understand how healthcare worked in the past generation, I interviewed a 75-year-old man who said that during his time, healthcare system in the United States of America was simple and most people received medication at their homes. He said that people who could be consulted when someone got sick were mainly folk healers though very few doctors and nurses were available (M. G. Peterson, personal interview, November 9, 2015). These doctors were, however, not well trained and had little scientific knowledge on medical treatments. Women gave birth at home, and all the necessary medical attention was provided by midwives. He pointed out that the attitude towards healthcare began to change in 1940s and physicians in some places started putting up small offices where they offered their services.
The interviewee explained that people were paying little fee to these physicians for every service they received, although most people still sought treatment from folk healers. These traditional healers were highly preferred by many people as seen during the Influenza pandemic where people opted to get treatment from them when the scientific medicine could not cure. The interviewee said that very few trained nurses started practising in the late 1920s and strict routines were maintained because causes of diseases were slowly being understood although effective medicine had not yet been found (M. G. Peterson, personal interview, November 9, 2015).
The second person I interviewed was a sixty-year-old man who represented my father’s generation. The interviewee said that healthcare during his generation was more advanced compared to the earlier generation. People strictly got medication from licenced physicians who had undergone the required government training. He pointed out that it was during that time that diseases such as yellow fever, cholera, and tuberculosis were treated. He said, ‘People were taught how to prevent and minimize the spread of these diseases’ (G. G. Williams, personal interview, November 9, 2015). During this time, doctors managed to form associations and joined labor unions, which made them get well paid. The physicians were paid for every service they delivered. This generation saw the change from homecare to care in medical facilities where patients received treatments under one roof. They viewed healthcare as highly improved and better diagnostic tools were being adopted into the system. He recalls that it was during the late 20th century that nursing became professionalized, and many women joined the training institutions. The use of specialized machines to care for critically ill patients also came in and has been widely used since then.
The last generation representative I interviewed was a thirty five year old lady who represents the current generation. Her knowledge of the current state of healthcare began in the 1990s, when Healthcare Maintenance Organizations (HMO) transformed healthcare, and doctors started working in corporations that used prepaid modes of payments. She pointed out that these corporations had well-laid down strategies that ensured that the cost of medical attention was reduced, services were restricted, and focus was made on preventing diseases. It was during the time that the doctors could no longer receive payments for the services offered. ‘Capitation slowly came in and doctors were paid a certain amount of money to take care of all the people who sought medical attention’ (P. A. Jones, personal interview November 9, 2015).
She said that the emergence of affordable internet also gave an opportunity to the members of the public to get more information regarding healthcare. The current healthcare system is characterized by the use of computers, where information is passed from one healthcare personnel to another. Patients’ records are kept in electronic systems and can be easily retrieved. Telemedicine has been practiced, and patients can be diagnosed and given medication by physicians wherever they are. She further said that a large percentage of patients receive medication from designated hospitals where the medical personnel have up-to-date training on the emerging diseases and treatments. Depending on the financial status of individuals, people access medication from private hospitals where doctors offer individualized treatments in a small private room while other get medication from government hospitals, which are cheaper and affordable.
The healthcare providers are also well trained and specialized care is provided to critically ill patients. The interviewee maintains that the continuous growth in technology use is continuing to change the complexity, nature, and cost of healthcare. ‘The main change that I have witnessed in healthcare is that scientists are continuously coming up with new knowledge about genes and diseases, and this will influence that the healthcare system incorporates gene therapies to prevent diseases that are associated with genes’ (P. A. Jones, personal interview November 9, 2015). She said that people currently view healthcare as complex and expensive. The introduction of Medicare is helping the elderly and those living with disabilities, but the youth and other adults still bear the high cost of healthcare. She concludes that health care providers are, however, competent and people put trust in them regarding proper diagnosis and treatment.
In conclusion, the three generations have close relationships as well as differences. First, all have special case treatments. Druggists and doctors were consulted in critical conditions in the early generation and the second and third have specialized care like ICU for critically ill patients. The main difference in these generations is the mode of payment and the costs associated. While the home remedies were free, the other two generations paid substantial amount of money catering for their healthcare. The current generation is the most expensive. Technology advancement is another major difference in these three generations. From a non-technological healthcare, technology has become highly used in providing healthcare services.