Do We Have a Healthcare System or a “disease care” System?

Webster defines healthcare as, “the field concerned with the maintenance or restoration of the health of the body or mind.” (Link to definition). Is this accurate? Do you feel that our healthcare system truly has your health in mind, or is it designed mainly to relieve symptoms? If hospitals were truly beacons of health, would their cafeterias serve French fries and soft drinks? Would hospital teaching sessions serve bagels to the staff, and would medical journal clubs be associated with pizza with extra cheese? I often see the slogan, “to heal the sick” bandied about. This is a worthy goal, but how many chronic illnesses does the current healthcare system actually heal? How many cases of diabetes are reversed, and how many high blood pressure patients are actually cured? Are we truly healing? I would say that for the best restoration of health possible, we need to change our philosophy and our approach.

A case in point: The current healthcare system uses an acute care model (antibiotics for infection, medication and balloon dilation for heart attacks, and surgery for an obstructed bowel) for chronic illness. They use treatment modalities that work well in acute medicine (antibiotics, surgery, and medications for chronic illness), but downplay the true path of restoration of health. If your hospital truly believed in the role of diet in your health, for example, there is no way it would serve French fries and sodas in its cafeteria. It would be interesting to compare hospital budget amounts allocated for feeding patients and for medications. My guess is a great deal more is spent on medication than on foods that have natural healing properties.

In my view, we clearly have a “disease care” model rather than a healthcare one. The current system goes through a step by step approach to match symptoms to illnesses and then provide tools to relieve – or sometimes merely mask – a patient’s symptoms. Can this honestly be called “healing?”

I’m confident that the future healthcare model will change from a disease paradigm to one that partners with patients to help them become healthier through better choices. For the most part, both health and illness are the result of our habits and behaviors. I think we need to think of the medical system as our partner in our journey through a life of radical wellness.

 

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