After seeing the title of this post on a Ted Talk given by Rebecca Onie I knew I had to borrow it. It suggests a hypothesis most of us already assume is the goal.
BUT IS IT?
Does our healthcare system attempt to keep us healthy? To answer this question, we must define the parameters of what HEALTHY is. To keep things simple, could we agree that HEALTHY may be defined as, “a qualitative efficient balance between physical, mental, emotional function resulting in the ability and/or desire to pursue a chosen path (or paths) in life.”
If we accept this definition, how has the healthcare system structured itself to help the individual achieve this balance? We have pediatricians and family medical physicians who perform exams and provide pharmaceutical medications to address acute bacterial and viral diseases or chronic diseases (blood pressure, diabetes, etc…) Although discovering abnormalities and combating disease plays a role in doctoring, are these the biggest and most important roles needed to help patients achieve and maintain GOOD HEALTH? Our system focuses more on DISEASE CARE than it does HEALTH CARE. It focuses on UNDOING or COMBATING more than SUPPORTING and STRENGTHENING.
What if our doctors began offering prescriptions based on HEALTH NEEDS rather than DISEASE NEEDS (as their primary responsibility?) Since we agree that HEALTH is a qualitative balance between physical, mental and emotional function, shouldn’t a large component of the prescription be based on the deficiencies in these areas? Wouldn’t this include (1) dietary needs, (2) physical fitness needs, (3) emotional needs, social interaction needs, (4) personal time needs, etc…? Shouldn’t follow up visits be scheduled to determine whether these deficiencies have been corrected? If they had, shouldn’t we expect the end result to be a stronger healthier body with increased functional capability? Is it possible, if health was addressed PRIMARILY from this perspective, DISEASE would become a smaller less significant role in HEALTH CARE? After all, if we provide the body its ESSENTIAL NEEDS, shouldn’t we expect a NATURAL STATE of GOOD HEALTH to follow? Isn’t it likely this approach to HEALTH CARE would replace much of the DISEASE CARE our current system functions under?
Now, rather than say the hypothesis I put forth is based on fantasy land because doctors and drug manufacturers will not permit such a paradigm shift, I counter with,
“it’s not up to them.”
We pay for their services and their products. We have the right to discuss with our physicians the care we choose to receive and the products we choose to take to MAINTAIN HEALTH rather than simply COMBATING DISEASE. If they are unable or unwilling to provide this care, we have the right to move on to the next physician who is willing. We must realize, WE ARE THE EMPLOYERS!
This means we can no longer accept the false presumption we are weak, feeble individuals following a structured system too powerful to change. But, in order to do so, we must be willing to accept greater responsibility for our OWN HEALTH. By sharing the responsibility with our doctors, a stronger professional relationship will create HEALTHIER RESULTS. This becomes another step in correcting the “damaged” healthcare system improving outcomes for both patient and doctor.
QUESTION: WHAT IF OUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM KEPT US HEALTHY?
ANSWER: We would avoid unnecessary human suffering, reduce unnecessary financial hardship and enhance quality living while discovering new opportunities for personal growth and development.
ALL THIS BY SIMPLY CHANGING OUR FOCUS FROM DISEASE CARE TO HEALTH CARE IN OUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM!