Cure for an Ailing Health Care System: Combat Health Illiteracy
Dr. Walter Bortz vividly recalls his first tour of the new hospital at Stanford University, where he serves as a clinical associate professor of medicine.
“The director regaled us of all its glories, telling us, ‘We’re going to have this and this and this,’” he said. “I put my hand up and asked, ‘But what are you doing to keep people out of the hospital?’”
He got no answer, of course. But the question sums up Bortz’s mission in a nutshell: He wants to change the basic relationship between the public and the medical establishment. He argues that people need to take charge of their own bodies, and health institutions need to educate and guide them toward optimal health.
Bortz calls this approach “Next Medicine,” which is also the title of his latest book (published by Oxford University Press). The author of six other books and 131 research papers (at last count), the extremely active 82-year-old is a recognized authority on aging. During a recent conversation over lunch, he talked about his ongoing effort to shift the focus of the medical establishment and combat what he calls “health illiteracy.”