Medical Advice and ‘Healthcare’

You would be surprised what happens when people find out you are a physician. Suddenly everyone has a medical question….. and when you are a physician, your heart is to share your knowledge for the benefit of others…. so why not?

Well sometimes it takes a while to see the big picture. And after some time I realized my efforts to try to benefit others with casual advice was not creating the same great results I was getting in my practice setting.

And this is no surprise. What sets a Naturopathic Physician apart from other providers offering quick advice, is that we treat people not diseases. That’s right, I don’t have a generic formula that I use on everyone with the same condition. So when I am asked: What do you use for menopause? Is this product good for allergies? What should I use for improving my immune system? How can I treat my child’s asthma naturally? Well, in casual conversation I don’t have the information I need to give a good answer.

In a nutshell there are 2 paths in health:

  • Treating/suppressing symptoms of disease. I call this ‘disease management’ and this is the dominant style of medicine in this country and the foundation of our healthcare system.  Its based on quick visits, pharmaceutical management, and ongoing care.
  • Treating the underlying issues that cause disease, a relationship where your provider takes time with you, and increasing independence and self care for the patient.

One is not inherently better than the other, and both have their place. in fact an excellent healthcare system has a balance of symptom manage and treating underlying issues. But when ‘disease management’ is the only treatment option, it creates an epidemic of chronic diseases like, autoimmune issues, diabetes, hypertension, CAD, hypothyroidism, asthma, etc. ‘Disease Care’ makes you physically more comfortable in the short run  by removing symptoms, but fails to address what’s wrong with your health. For example with hypothyroidism, in ‘Disease Care’ you take a pill  every day of your life to ‘feel’ healthy. With ‘Healthcare’ you treat your thyroid and restore function. You heal.

‘Disease Management’ is highly profitable. Ongoing visits. Ongoing prescriptions. Procedures. Hospitalizations. Disability. It’s very big business. ‘

Healthcare’ is affordable, sustainable, and empoweriung.

When I am asked for a quick simple fix to a healthcare problem outside of my practice, I feel torn. How can I explain that by asking me this question, you are asking to be treated with ‘disease management’ instead of ‘healthcrae’?

On the other hand when someone is desperate for health and has no idea what options exist, stepping up on my soapbox is not necessarily the most compassionate move I could make.

So remember what you are asking for next time you are looking for a quick answer and  a quick fix for a healthcare issue. You will have no trouble finding people to oblige you. But if you are really looking for genuine  healthcare…..dig a little deeper.

Reprinted from blog post 7/10/2016