Monday, January 4, 2010

Real health reform (Part 1 of 4): Health care, not disease care

I read a great article in Body & Soul magazine on the future of medicine, where they interviewed several leaders in the field of integrative medicine.
“Somewhere beyond the endless health-care debates could lie real reform: A future where we – an our doctors – will take a more balanced approach to keeping ourselves well...” 
There are 4 main parts to this, but today I’ll just address the first...

1) Health care, not disease care
“We don’t have health care: we have disease care.” ~ Mimi Guarneri, director of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine 
  • Our health system is good for emergency care – heart attacks, strokes, trauma, and serious infections – but not great for keeping people healthy in the first place. 
  • The preventive care provided is not really prevention. Guarneri said, “Prevention isn’t having a mammogram… Prevention is eating an anti-inflammatory diet rich in greens and whole grains and exercising.” 
  • The current fee for service structure reimburses physicians for providing treatment. Physicians should be reimbursed for their time teaching about prevention and lifestyle change. 
  • Medical schools need to expand their curriculum to teach about nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction. Andrew Weil, founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, said: 
“There should be a course on the body’s healing system, on all the mechanisms from DNA on up, by which it can self-diagnose, repair, regenerate, and adapt… It seems odd to me, when you look at the NIH, that there’s really nothing there about health: it’s all about diseases… and that’s representative of what’s off in our whole way of thinking about the body.”

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