Speaker stresses health care reform, education for patients


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Photo by Enrico Cabredo |

Graduate students and faculty members learn ways of gaining research funding to improve health care on Busch campus yesterday at The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development’s “Transforming Health Care: The Role of Science and Technology.”


Misha Pavel, a program director at the National Science Foundation, shared his views on transforming health care through educating patients yesterday to an audience of 15 faculty and graduate students.

Pavel said improvements in the health care system could be made after patients are able to identify symptoms that cause illnesses.

He said patients see a doctor when they are sick, but the health care system should be geared toward providing proactive methods to help patients prevent diseases.

“If you prevent diseases, you also prevent overspending,” Pavel said. “Right now, when you go to the doctor, [they] make judgments by personal experience. … The key is stabilizing relationships with caretakers so that they are able to note changes in your health and diagnose properly.”

Pavel said the amount of Americans that have health issues because of a lack of exercise and a healthy diet is on the rise.

Some health problems occurring today are caused by unhealthy food choices, which lower life expectancy rates, Pavel said at the lecture hosted by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development in the Computing Research and Education building on Busch campus.

“Restaurants … promote high-carbohydrate foods … that raises obesity, and it’s a problem that individuals need to address,” Pavel said. “Lifestyle and hygiene affects lifestyle. Even though we are concerned about illnesses, we have to think about prevention of illnesses. There is a huge problem with obesity.”

Pavel said people should not only go to the doctors when they are sick, but should also visit the doctor to have check ups and establish a relationship with a primary physician.

Addressing weight management and health issues can be met through healthier eating habits and exercise, Pavel said.

“The ability to monitor is a key issue,” Pavel said. “Very rarely [do] we go to hospitals for check ups. Being able to monitor health functions is a key factor to make a difference on the intervention side.”

Educating patients is one way to address the issue of health care, he said. Patients can reduce health costs by knowing the symptoms that affect them to help prevent illness and help doctors make diagnoses.

Pavel said researching technology to target diseases could help improve the health care system.

He said the NSF provides funding for research projects that aim to make a difference in health care through technological advances.

Michael Mueller, the associate director of the University Office of Proposal Development, said the foundation reviews research proposals to see if it would make a difference in society and allocate funds to chosen applicants to conduct their research.

“The NSF is responding to the reports where we have world’s most expensive health care system. … The best ways to analyze issues from a clinical side [is] to look at these researcher’s technologies and chose the best science. The best science is funded and it leads to discovery,” he said.


By Manuela Jimenez

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