Monday interlude

From time to time, the FEHBlog has reminded readers of a truism — science is as much an art as a science.

Yesterday, after completing an outstanding recent biography of our first Chief Justice John Marshall (“Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times by John Richard Paul, after all the FEHBlog is a lawyer), he started reading Kenneth A. Fisher, M.D.’s book titled “Understanding Healthcare: A Historical Perspective.”

Right there in the introduction a quote which forms the basis for this truism:

“The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head.” Sir William Osler (1849 – 1919).

Dr. Fisher goes on to state in the introduction that

No matter how much science advances our knowledge of the mechanisms of disease, however, medicine remains an art, combining science with humanity to address each individual’s specific needs. “As essential, as invaluable as was the study of specific diseases through close, scientific investigation,” eloquently observed Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes [(1809 – 1894, whose son was the Supreme Court Justice O. W. Holmes, Jr.)], “there had to be more to the physician’s comprehension and approach. There had to be concern for and some understanding of the patient. Medicine was a science to be sure, but also an art, the noblest of arts.” 

How true that is.  The FEHBlog submits that you cannot assess that expertise in an NCQA HEDIS measure or a CAHPS survey question.