Slicing and Dicing

Back to the doctor today, I had to get a mole removed. They can't enough of me.

The worst thing about minor surgery is the fact that you are conscious. Of course, the drugs are great and work really well (and amazingly quickly), but you still feel all the tugging and pulling.

The irish health service may have it's share of problems at the moment, but the people who work in the service are really excellent. I've met a lot of them this year and the standard of care once you get admitted is really great. I do think that the (traditional) media does it's usual trick of highlighting bad news. Like any organization, most workers are just trying to do a great job despite all the bureaucratic silliness.

Getting a health service to work efficiently is a really hard optimisation problem. It's not just about money – you have to get the standard of care right. It's not even a straightforward problem of deciding on priorities because a lot of your resource allocation has to be done on the basis of ethical criteria. I studied moral philosophy in an earlier life and, hey, it's one hot cookie.

Anyway, I am not going to offer some half-baked opinion on how to do things right. How did we end up with effective market economies in the first place, the kind that work out OK for most citizens? The ancient greeks put a whole lot more thought into it than we ever did, and we just happened to stumble upon an idea that really worked, almost by accident. So the default strategy as regards health care should really be to keep trying to find new solutions. There has to be a few “good enough” local maxima somewhere in there, and we may even hit the big time.

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