Recovering the Health and Vitality of Our Generation and the Next
The field of healthcare in North America is in desperate need of a full-on revolution. Despite more advances in science, medicine, philosophy and psychology than any other time in history, the percentage of chronically ill Americans is also higher than any time in history. Tragically, those percentages are growing dramatically. This healthcare revolution is long overdue.
Symptoms of the Need for Change in American Healthcare
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of all US adults (roughly 117 million people) have one or more chronic health conditions; one in four suffer from two or more chronic health problems.1 As a result of the Western medicine, allopathic approach to using a “diagnose and prescribe” model for treating illness, Americans are taking higher quantities and more complex combinations of prescription drugs at an accelerating pace. According to the health research firm Quintile IMS, the number of prescriptions filled for American adults and children rose 85 percent between 1997 and 2016, from 2.4 billion to 4.5 billion a year. During that time, the U.S. population rose by only 21 percent.2
Meanwhile, a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine says medical errors should rank as the third leading cause of death in the United States. According to the study and its base of research, medical mistakes that can lead to death range from surgical complications that go unrecognized to mix-ups with the doses or types of medications patients receive. The Johns Hopkins study estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. On the CDC’s official list, that would rank just behind heart disease and cancer, which each took about 600,000 lives in 2014, and in front of respiratory disease, which caused about 150,000 deaths. The authors of the Johns Hopkins study urged, in an open letter to the CDC, to immediately add medical errors to its annual list reporting the top causes of death.3 These already frightening facts don’t even begin to account for the myriad health problems caused by pharmaceutical drug side-effects, adverse reactions and unforeseen contraindications.
In her recent groundbreaking book, “A Nation of Unwell”, Dr. Kristine Gedroic concisely describes the root of the problem with the Western medicine, allopathic approach. “As physicians, we are not trained to consider why patients are having symptoms in an attempt to correct the underlying cause. We are taught to ask the questions we need to have answered in order to add up to a particular disease or diagnosis, and we are trained to consider what medicine will help with the symptom and make the patient more comfortable or less at risk. We then discard all the other elements that seem to have no relation”. Dr. Gedroic goes on to liken this approach to the analogy of a fire and smoke detector, “When we take medicine for a symptom without looking for a cause, we are dismantling our internal smoke detector while the fire continues to burn, becoming more intense and problematic over time.”1
A Medical Profession Ready for Change
In the course of our work at MindBody Talent, we talk with medical professionals of all stripes, literally every day of every week. Those conversations and relationships include allopathic and osteopathic physicians (MDs and DOs), nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PAs), therapeutic specialists and practitioners of a wide range of traditional and non-traditional therapies. We also work closely with executives who run medical practices, hospitals, wellness centers and senior living facilities. Those conversations have a very common and increasingly frustrated theme that goes something like this … “I didn’t enter the medical profession to only treat symptoms and too often fail in the process. I didn’t spend years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on my education to dispense pills and prescribe treatments that so often make the situation worse. There has to be a better way”.
Thankfully, there is a better way… the Revolution in healthcare is finally and steadily gaining steam.
Honoring the Past to Chart the Path Forward
The Latin root of the term “revolution” means to “turn around” or to “roll back”. The revolutionary voices in the American healthcare system are doing just that … calling us to return to the roots of methods and practices that worked for thousands of years in the management of illness and the restoration of health. These visionary leaders are mining and honoring ancient wisdom that was largely discarded with the advent of modern science and innovations in medicine. They are charting paths that honor the old while embracing the new in blended models that work for our modern life and times.
This Revolution is picking up momentum because of people like Dr. Kristine Gedroic and a growing number of like-minded experts in Functional, Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine that include Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Center for Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and founder of The UltraWellness Center; Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine; Dr. Dean Ornish, founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute; Dr. Jeff Egler, medical director of the Inspire Health Center at Adventist Health; Dr. Lauren Munsch Dal Farra, CEO, and Dr. Sita Kedia, Medical Director, of PALM Health; Dr. Theri Raby, founder and medical director of The Raby Institute for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern; Dr. David Katz, founder of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and founder/president of the True Health Initiative; and Dr. Mehmet Oz, attending physician of New York Presbyterian/Columbia University who uses his prolific media presence to open so many alternative conversations about health.
It’s also growing because of the thousands of practitioners and hundreds of medical practices, wellness centers and senior living communities across the country that are becoming savvy to the tenets and methodologies of Functional, Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine. These leaders are choosing to use a broader lens that includes modern advances in science and medicine, but also inclusively revisits ancient wisdoms, pays attention to native practices, and seeks to understand the full scope of physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and, even, mystical factors that impact health and wellness.
Fueling the Revolution
At MindBody Talent, we understand that we are not on the front lines of the Revolution. That position belongs to the practitioners and Wellness practices that come face-to-face with patients every day. We’re very clear that our role is to provide essential fuel for the Revolution. That fuel comes in the form of personnel who we source and recruit to join forward-thinking organizations. It comes from strategies, directions and processes that help those organizations define and execute their paths forward. It takes the form of branding and the development of marketing platforms that give these practitioners and practices voices to reach patients and engage fellow travelers. And it comes from a range of technologies that we help research, select, implement and integrate into our clients’ environments.
Multi-Front Resistance to Change
Like all revolutions, this one requires coordination, cooperation, communication, lots of courageous bravery and true passion for the cause. That’s because the lines of resistance are many and the opponents are formidable:
The Pharmaceutical Industry: The global pharmaceuticals market was worth $934.8 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach $1.170 trillion by 2021, growing at 5.8%, according to a recent pharma market research report by The Business Research Company.4 The United States alone holds over 45 percent of the global pharmaceutical market5, so that’s a $500 billion appetite that has a huge vested interest in ensuring that drugs are promoted, prescribed and taken … refill and repeat … often forever.
Medical Schools: There are 179 total medical schools in the United States. This includes 143 allopathic (MD) and 36 osteopathic (DO) medical schools.6 It is commonly understood that the curriculum of allopathic medical schools is heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. If your frame of reference is the symptom-and-prescription model that Dr. Gedroic described, then that frame of reference is going to be dominated by drugs and what they do. In other words, the majority of our doctors are trained to prescribe “unplugging the smoke detector”.
Embedded Belief Systems: For generations we’ve been taught to trust our doctors. If we went to a doctor with a problem and he or she said, “Take a pill”, then we took the pill. The vast majority of people still hold firm to this belief system, even though a growing body of evidence and a growing cacophony of voices are telling us that this decades-old system of managing illness is broken at its core.
Instant Gratification and Easy “Solutions”: When you experience pain, the easiest and quickest thing to do is take an over-the-counter or prescription pain killer to relieve it. The more difficult thing to do is to investigate to find the cause and pursue a course of treatment that will cure the pain at its source. People rush to pharmacies in the middle of the night for aspirin, they don’t rush there for vitamins, nutritional supplements or therapeutic meditation. The path to real recovery from acute and chronic illness can be long and circuitous. Most often people opt for what seems to be the easy solution, instead of investing the diligence to get rid of the problem for good.
Daunting Challenges but Worthy Goals
These are each daunting challenges and formidable opponents in the path of this Revolution, but the stakes could not be higher. A nation of wellness and our own individual lives of health and prosperity lie on the other side of this battle. The Revolution is on … and the battle is worth it!
Rich Hoffmann is the co-founder, COO and Managing Director of the Strategic Solutions practice for MindBody Talent, as well as the Editor in Chief of the Wellness Wisdom Journal. Learn more at www.MindBodyTalent.com.
Read here for more strategies on health, diet and fitness.
- “A Nation of Unwell – What’s Gone Wrong?”, Kristine L. Gedroic, MD1
- “Americans Taking More Prescription Drugs Than Ever”2
- “Medical Errors Are No. 3 Cause Of U.S Deaths, Researchers Say”3
- Pharmaceutical Drugs Global Market Report 20184
- U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry – Statistics & Facts5
- Medical Schools in the U.S.6