Good morning and Happy Holidays! Hope this finds you ready for a special holiday weekend.
Something happened this week that blew my mind. I always appreciate this outlet to share my experiences, so thank you.
The 20th started like any other Tuesday. I had just seen my 11:30 patient and was headed out of the office to grab a quick salad. As I made my way toward my Wrangler, there was a funky black vehicle with a Camry logo sitting directly in my path. Standing and holding an open passenger door was a man I initially couldn’t place. I then remembered he was my patient, Richard E. Norquist (due to HIPAA let’s just call him Dick N.). I saw him close to a year ago and remember him as introverted. Tuesday he was wearing an over-sized black hoodie sweatshirt with the faded white letters ‘YTC’ on the back. He was pointing for me to get in the car. His outstretched arm, hand, and finger were so thin! He was silent, and I figured he might be upset so I felt compelled to get in. With one fell swoop, my door closed, he swung around to the driver’s seat and threw the car into the ‘F’ gear. Next thing I knew we were hovering 100, 500, now 1000 feet off the ground! A Camry?!
As I look over my right shoulder, I recognize our city, but at the same time, things look different. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but it’s a better ‘different’.
“Could you hold the wheel for a second, I have to take this thing off. I’ve lost 35 pounds since I saw you and this thing feels like a big, heavy black cloak.”
He has a tie-dyed WWAD shirt underneath and it makes me smile.
This thing is fast and we pass over multiple suburbs quickly.
I make out a bank sign. It reads 12:07 p.m., flashes to December 20th, 2032. Then it reads 32 F.
Peering down into the city, I strain to figure out the ‘difference’. The streets are narrow; one lane each direction and sidewalks are huge – as wide as the road. They are bordered on both sides by heavy vegetation. The sidewalks and bike paths are jammed with people. We see rickshaws peddling up to and alongside pedestrians. They are handing them fruits. Weird. It appears that they’re scanning their phone and then handing them mangos, passion fruit, berries, you name it.
Dick N. sees my face up against the glass. Without my asking, he answers.
“The insurance companies figured out that they save $13.40 for every mile we walk. Now, each time you hit a mile you get 25% of that ($3.35), added to your phone. They are handing the rickshaw drivers their phone and it’s being deducted.”
“The $13.40? Kind of like getting $200 for passing Go?”
“That’s exactly what it is”
Dick changes the subject. “Check out this building up there on the right. It literally has a glass ceiling – ironically the entire C-suite is female. Let’s in a lot of sun right?”
It’s so cool. It’s like the largest aquarium ever, only the fish are wearing business clothes. And it appears as if they are all walking in place, not swimming OR sitting.
“David, it’s almost 2033. Everyone uses treadmill desks. People stopped sitting years ago.”
“Fascinating?! Why’s that Dick?”
“Someone did a study in 2023 and they discovered that between increased productivity, less sick days, and many other reasons the treadmill desks saved the US 105 Billion dollars a year.”
“Billion with a ‘B’?”
“Yes, a ‘B'”
“That’s awesome. With all this activity going on down there, do you feel guilty driving/flying?”
“Nope, because I’m pedaling. Wish you would too Dave, we’re leaning heavy to the right”
Now I can see the pedals and within seconds the car’s flight is corrected.
“Interesting. I know it’s 2032 but I still see a lot of buses, trains, and subway stations.”
“People that use mass transit get a lot more activity than those in cars. If you think about it they have to walk, often a good distance, 4 times each…”
“WHOA! What was THAT!!”
We barely missed a massive 150 story skyscraper.
“Sorry Dave. That’s a Starbucks – 147 stories of coffee. Can you believe it?”
Just as I gather myself and look down to see how big the wet spot is, he jerks the wheel in the entirely opposite direction narrowly averting another skyscraper. “What was THAT?!”
Darn you Howard Schultz.
“That woman up there. The one leaving the small building surrounded by the huge green space. She’s smiling so wide. What do you think that’s all about?”
“Hard to believe, but that’s a hospital. With everyone so active, now they only build hospitals a tenth the size of the old ones; they use the rest of the space for parks.”
“She’s smiling because she didn’t have a co-pay. If you opt-in, all your activity is immediately downloaded from your phone directly into your electronic medical record (EMR). When you see your doctor, she/he knows that you’ve been averaging 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. It goes directly into your EMR as a vital sign, right next to your heart rate and blood pressure.”
“That makes perfect sense!”
“I can’t make out that green and blue logo on the sign – I’ve seen a few medical buildings that we passed have had it as well?”
Dick looked at me and laughed.
“You’re kidding right? That’s the Walk with a Doc logo. Most of the hospitals and doctors offices have them. In short, now in 2032 we have Walk with a Doc physicians and we have non-Walk with a Doc physicians. People like the WWAD physicians more. It comes down to metrics, Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores. The reality is, these docs demonstrate an extra level of caring. So now, hospitals and medical offices put the logo on their sign as a mark of quality.
“That’s good to hear”
“Yeah, Texas has the most. The TMA started promoting to their patients decades ago – back in 2010.”
“It may be almost 2033, but you know one thing that hasn’t changed David?
“Your newsletters are still way too long.
Don’t you all have enough money yet to hire an editor? Can I give you a couple bucks?”
With that he slams the gear to ‘L’ and we rapidly drop down to the same spot in front of OhioHealth. I catch my breath.
“Dick – I appreciate it”
I look down at my watch, 12:42 pm, December 20th, 2022.
I exit, slapping the car’s trunk as I head in to my fantastic office before my 1:00 patient. Something catches me out of the corner of my eye.
I notice a couple of men in white canvas suits and painters’ caps laughing next to our hospital sign. One of the workers is holding a blue can; the other green.
It’s going to be a great afternoon.
Disclaimer: The patient’s name was not Richard E. Norquist. Due to HIPAA, we cannot share any details. There might have been some additional satire in this newsletter as well, so please don’t take anything seriously.
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