It is no secret that American Healthcare is in trouble. It is economically burdened and unsustainable. We were not ready for the extent or severity of the pandemic and, even after we have long said goodbye to SARS-CoV-2 (aka Covid 19) we will be in the midst of an ongoing health crisis. For the first time in modern history, life expectancy of children is predicted to be shorter than their parents while diabetes and obesity are advancing at alarming rates. So what is wrong? And more importantly, what can we do?
I do not hold all the answers to these pressing, life threatening questions, but as a traditional, hospital based physician for 30 years, and now a wellness, holistic physician/health coach, I feel I have gained some perspective.
Patients, and physicians, are used to a “sick-care” model rather than true “healthcare.” It is a system motivated by profits and run by big pharma, massive hospital systems, powerful insurance companies and corporate medicine, where the most rewarding elements are those which are the most expensive and therefore the most rewarding to the system. So as patients, we trod along, falsely thinking we are being healthy, until something happens acutely: we get cancer, we have a heart attack, or a horrific car crash, and then we run to the system, using up our life savings, or facing exorbitant health insurance premiums and “deductibles” to restore us to “normal”, until the next medical crisis comes along.
Traditional doctors and hard working hospital staff must be forgiven since they were trained within this system and aren’t equipped in holistic preventative care. Obviously, given the system as it exists today, if you have a car accident or heart attack, you must go to the hospital and you will likely receive excellent care.
But poor health continues: In fact, for the second year in a row, the US reported 100,000 deaths due to diabetes. Reuters reported this on 1/31:
“The new [diabetes mortality] figures come as an expert panel urges Congress to overhaul diabetes care and prevention, including recommendations to move beyond a reliance on medical interventions alone”
Might we finally be getting it?? Prevention, although not expensive, enriching or glamorous, could save millions of healthcare dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives each year. Moving away from a reliance on medicines, surgeries and lengthy hospitalizations might finally be the answer. The reason prevention is not widely accepted by the health care conglomerate or the public is that if prevention is working, nothing happens. And that just simply goes against our medical care paradigm. We think: Get sick, go to the doctor, get a bunch of lab tests to verify the diagnosis, receive a prescription, get better.
I suggest a different paradigm: Routinely work with a holistic specialist or health coach who helps folks make lifestyle modifications that PREVENT illness and promote high quality living, at a fraction of the cost or inconvenience. Doesn’t that make more sense?
Help me get the word out, my friends: Lifestyle is medicine, and prevention is the cure! Let that be our mantra. It’s time to change our point of view on healthcare, and truly get healthier!
Dr. John Monaco