Monday, August 3, 2009

The Long Sabbatical

I know what you’re thinking. “William Osler - Didn’t he kick the bucket about a zillion years ago?” Long story. Allow me to summarize. Most people believe the carefully-crafted cover story that I succumbed to the 1919 Spanish influenza epidemic. Not true. Merely a convenient coincidence. Seriously, do you really think that I, Sir William Osler, Professor of Medicine at Penn, Johns Hopkins, and Oxford – the guy who practically invented modern medicine and literally wrote the book (Principles and Practice of Medicine – still available at Amazon. And by the way - where are my royalties?) would allow myself to shuffle off the mortal coil with the flu? Please. I had every medical student, intern, and resident on the East Coast sucking up to me, hoping for a good letter of recommendation and maybe even a teaching gig. No way they would have let me die before I finished their yearly evaluations.

No, I was just bored. Simple as that. To be honest, I was also a little bummed by the Great War (how was I to know they would start giving them numbers, like some customer in line at the deli?). I was bored, so I decided to go on sabbatical. A very long sabbatical.

The plan was 100 years. Disappear in 1919, come back in 2019. Simple, right? But along the way, somebody made a little arithmetic error, and pushed the button in 2009 instead of 2019. Whatevs. (I’m still looking into this; heads will roll. Don't they teach addition these days?) The important thing is that I’m back now, catching up on all the important stuff in my inbox. You wouldn’t believe how many emails piled up. One of them is from some guy in Nigeria who's going to give me a few $K just for helping him with a wire transfer. And what the hell is Viagra, anyway?

How did I do it? I’ll bet you’d love to know, wouldn’t you? Well, I’m afraid that will just have to remain our little proprietary and confidential information for the time being, at least until the IP lawyers have signed off and all the patent apps are filed. Don’t even ask me to tell you. Not even with a 20-page CDA. I’m going to monetize this puppy.

You may not realize this, but medical school professors didn’t make that much money back in my day. Not even me. And yes, I did leave some investments in place to cover my overhead when I came back, but I see there were a couple of little economic bumps in the road – especially the one that began in 1929, and the other one that just hit last year. Let me tell you, I took a beating. Especially the money my estate had parked with some guy named Madoff.

So naturally, after a few site visits, I decided to move out to California and set up shop in the Valley. I found some nice digs close to Stanford and the VCs on Sand Hill Road, and got a pretty good deal on some office space vacated by a deadpooled social networking company that never had a viable business model.

You can’t imagine how much paper work all this has taken, especially with the state medical board and my malpractice carrier. I did take one guy at Stanford into my confidence. He knows about my “sabbatical” and who I really am. Had to be done so I could get admitting privileges under another identity at the hospital and get a few laughs grilling medical students on attending rounds about the 12 causes of renal failure in amyloidosis or something like that. It never gets old. I love it.

So the plan is to raise some Series A money at a decent valuation from a couple of VCs to get my stealth biotech biz off the ground, recruit some board members that will do what I tell them, and hire a PA to get me coffee, pick up my dry cleaning, and make sure I always get an aisle seat in first class.

Otherwise, while I’m waiting for things to get rolling, I decided to share some of my observations, experience, and opinions with you on this site. The internet. What a cool idea. Why didn’t I think of that?

In any event, please check back soon and often. There’s a lot of stuff I can’t wait to tell you.


Doctor (Sir) William Osler. But you can call me Bill. Just don’t tell the medical students.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Have Courage...Congress is About to Leave Washington

By this time next week, members of both the House and Senate will be racing across the Potomac bridges in heavy traffic, making a run for the departure gates at Reagan Airport, trying to get out of town before the White House Switchboard operators can find them by some super-secret BORG technology they use to locate and connect them from anywhere on the planet to one of those quasi-parental "I'm very disappointed, I expected so much more from you, I know you're capable of so much better than that." kinds of speeches over the phone from The Godfather in the Oval.

But once our boys and girls from the House and Senate have fastened their seatbelts, turned off all electronic devices, stopped trying to hide their still fully-powered Blackberry from the grumpy flight attendants, properly stowed their tray tables in the fully upright and locked position, and crammed all of their earthly possessions into the overhead bins (Because, seriously, does anyone actually, like, check-in their luggage for a flight anymore? Me neither.) -- when all of the enormously entertaining pre-flight rituals are complete, those planes will take off, bound for Alaska or Florida, Texas or California, Kansas or Wyoming. And at that moment, we will know once again that our souls have been lightened, our prayers answered, and our country a little safer. We made it to Congressional recess. Let's all have a moment of silence and thanks to let that sink in.

But while Congress is out, doing whatever it is that they do on vacations of that length, I will be busy analyzing the flurry of different plan proposals, correcting arithmetic, identifying the intellectual free-fire zones, and the people that are sadly naive, lying, actively hallucinating, or frankly delusional. It should be fun.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Way To Go, Congress!

Just thinking... in all the discussion during the last few weeks about reforming the US healthcare system, and grand proposals for creating new programs and enrolling the 45 million or so Americans who currently have no health insurance -- as good and noble an objective as that may be -- there is one teeny little question: Who, exactly, is going to take care of all these people? Real doctors? Where are we going to find them? Have they been kept in a secret reserve pool somewhere until now? Because, unless I'm missing something, there aren't a lot of extra primary care doctors sitting around at Starbucks, waiting for patients.

And while we're on the subject, how are we going to fix that other little medical program sponsored by the US government for the last 44 years or so...I think it's called Medicare or something like that. Last I heard, it was running out of money because no one seemed to have a clue how to fix it. Something about more money going out than coming in, lots of talk about fraud, waste, and abuse, but nobody ever seems to be able to put their finger on all that fraud, waste, and abuse in order to fix it. Lots of talk, but no solutions.

But that's okay. I'm sure that a brand new, hugely-expensive, government-sponsored healthcare system would absolutely not have any of the same problems that all of the other hugely-expensive government-sponsored programs in the history of the universe have had. I'm completely sure that suddenly deciding to enroll another 45 million people in some kind of government-sponsored health program would be highly efficient, assure the highest quality of care, and would have absolutely none of the chronic structural problems of Medicare that no administration in the last 40 years has been able or willing to solve.

And most importantly, I rest easy at night knowing that within the huge surplus of extra primary care physicians we have sitting around, looking for work, most of them will step up immediately to spend more time, doing more work, with less autonomy, for even less money than they might otherwise have to settle for, taking care of Medicare patients.

Way to go, Congress!
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