Jeff Kane. Healing Healthcare: How Doctors and Patients Can Heal Our Sick System. New York: Helios Press, 2015. pp. 156. Paperback. ISBN‐13: 978‐1‐62153‐461‐7.

AuthorBonnie Stabile
Published date01 December 2015
Date01 December 2015
Book Review
Jeff Kane. Healing Healthcare: How Doctors and Patients Can Heal Our Sick System.
New York: Helios Press, 2015. pp. 156. Paperback. ISBN-13: 978-1-62153-461-7.
Seeing the words “Healing Healthcare” in red on the cover of the book I was
reading on a recent f‌light, the passenger next to me asked testily, “How’s that
going?” A hand surgeon, he expressed bitter frustration with current practice.
Like the book’s author, he f‌inds the United States in the midst of a health-care
crisis. Physician and author Jeff Kane’s thoughtful book focuses on the profound
pain experienced by both patients and physicians as a result of our dysfunctional
health-care system. While conceding that “medical technology can be truly
wondrous,” he nonetheless bemoans that “as healthcare morphed into retail
trade” in recent decades “the patient and physician had to make space in the safe
haven of their examining room for insurance clerks, government bureaucrats,
drug company reps, technology marketers, and attorneys, not to mention the
ever-proliferating hardware” (p. 26). As a result, both expenditures and suffering
have skyrocketed, leaving us with health-care costs “surreally out of line” with
the sorry status of “thirty-seventh place for quality, between Costa Rica and
Slovenia” as ranked by the World Health Organization (p. 4).
Kane joins a growing chorus of physicians calling for restraint and ref‌lection in
medical practice. This assemblage advocates changes that would both control costs
and lead to better outcomes by reinfusing medical care with vital elements that
have receded with the rise of technological advance: talk and human touch. The
laying on of hands practiced by “physician-author Abraham Verghese... through
physical exam can diagnose accurately and more rapidly than thousands of dollars
worth of high-tech tests ... and be a profound healing ritual” (p. 41). Like surgeon
Atul Gawande, whose answer to the question “What should medicine do when it
can’t save your life?” includes listening more and acknowledging our collective
mortality, Kane suggests strategies for would-be healers, caregivers, and patients to
engage in productive dialogue. In so doing, physicians would practice real
compassion,by“suffering with” (p. 81) their patients, and see them, as physician/
philosopher Jeffrey Bishop urges in his book The Anticipatory Corpseem (2011), as
more than mere mechanistic systems in need of repair.
World Medical & Health Policy, Vol. 7, No. 4, 2015
1948-4682 #2015 Policy Studies Organization
Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc., 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA, and 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ.

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