Philosophy of healthcare
The philosophy of healthcare is the study of the ethics, processes, and people which constitute the maintenance of health for human beings. (Although veterinary concerns are worthy to note, the body of thought regarding their methodologies and practices is not addressed in this article.) For the most part, however, the philosophy of healthcare is best approached as an indelible component of human social structures. That is, the societal institution of healthcare can be seen as a necessary phenomenon of human civilization whereby an individual continually seeks to improve, mend, and alter the overall nature and quality of his or her life. This perennial concern is especially prominent in modern political liberalism, wherein health has been understood as the foundational good necessary for public life.The philosophy of healthcare is primarily concerned with the following elemental questions:Who requires and/or deserves healthcare? Is healthcare a fundamental right of all people?What should be the basis for calculating the cost of treatments, hospital stays, drugs, etc.?How can healthcare best be administered to the greatest number of people?What are the necessary parameters for clinical trials and quality assurance?Who, if anybody, can decide when a patient is in need of ""comfort measures"" (euthanasia)?However, the most important question of all is 'what is health?'. Unless this question is addressed any debate about healthcare will be vague and unbounded. For example, what exactly is a health care intervention? What differentiates healthcare from engineering or teaching, for example? Is health care about 'creating autonomy' or acting in people's best interests? Or is it always both? A 'philosophy' of anything requires baseline philosophical questions, as asked, for example, by philosopher David Seedhouse.Ultimately, the purpose, objective and meaning of healthcare philosophy is to consolidate the abundance of information regarding the ever-changing fields of biotechnology, medicine, and nursing. And seeing that healthcare typically ranks as one of the largest spending areas of governmental budgets, it becomes important to gain a greater understanding of healthcare as not only a social institution, but also as a political one. In addition, healthcare philosophy attempts to highlight the primary movers of healthcare systems; be it nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, hospital administrators, health insurance companies (HMOs and PPOs), the government (Medicare and Medicaid), and lastly, the patients themselves.