In my last blog post I discussed how metrics need to fit the thing being measured and how a one-metric-fits-all or one-metric-says-it-all approach can be misleading.
I attended the organizational meeting of the Health Policy Committee in the Michigan House of Representatives last Thursday and had the privilege of speaking with a number of committee members afterwards. Chairman Gail Haines of Waterford really has a good group on this committee. They bring together a very broad and diverse set of backgrounds in the area of health policy and they clearly have a passion for making improvements in our state in this area. I think that they will work well together and listen to a broad range of points of view as they do some good things in our state.
The guest speaker at this hearing was Tony Stamas, Legislative Liaison for the Department of Community Health. He shared that this department’s purpose is to protect, preserve and promote the safety and health of the citizens of Michigan. Tony shared that infant mortality and obesity are up significantly in Michigan and therefore these are areas where they will seek improvement. These are the two metrics – the only two metrics – on the new MiDashboard in the area of health. While these are important areas and therefore belong on the MiDashboard for that reason, there is more to the whole picture of health in the state.
Tony shared that there are some areas of improvement in the state as well. For example, mortality rates have improved due to a decrease in chronic illness and smoking rates are down in the state although still above the national average. I’d like to see these on the dashboard as well.
I like the idea of the MiDashboard. It impels us to seek results. In Christian Science results matter and so I like that. I encourage the Governor to add additional metrics to the MiDashboard. And perhaps that is the plan and what we have today is simply the initial roll-out of a new and, I think, very useful idea.
Clearly, the Governor, too, wants results in the area of health. In his State of the State Address Governor Snyder said that he would encourage every citizen in the state to have an annual physical exam. The Governor said the state would encourage this. Let’s be careful not to slide from encouraging this to requiring it, as if the two were the same thing. And here’s one reason why.
As a Christian Scientist I believe that my real, God-created being is spiritual and therefore that health is a spiritual thing. And as hard as this may be to accept, I believe also that the human body is, fundamentally, a thing of thought. And so it’s more important to examine thought to ensure a state of health. I believe that the best way to promote my health is to spiritualize my thought. A physical exam would look in the other direction. A spiritual condition calls for a spiritual metric to measure it.
Jesus taught that it is not the things that go into the mouth (in the body) that defile (mar, spoil) a man (or his health), but the things which come out of the mouth that defile a man. He said, “…those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts…” (KJV Matthew 15:18-19).
And Paul wrote (KJV 2 Corinthians 5:16), “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. ”
So, while many of our citizens choose medical care as a means of maintaining health and therefore may choose to have a physical exam for this purpose, there are also those in the state who choose instead to rely on spiritual care in Christian Science and examine thought through prayer for this purpose.
I think – and certainly hope – that I would be correct in saying that we all want everyone in the state to have good health. But let’s remember that in this area, as in many others, there is a diversity in our state that calls for mutual understanding and respect. And I would encourage all of us to support one another in the pursuit of good health, whatever choices each individual makes to achieve this.