How to transform healthcare for more health and less $

Harvey Fineberg, President of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in a 2013 IOM report concluded, “The United States spends much more money on health care than any other country. Yet, Americans die sooner and experience more illness than residents in many other countries…The nation’s current health trajectory is lower in success and higher in cost than it should be. The cost of inaction is high.”

It is news to no one that something is wrong with healthcare in America. Patients are fed up with insensitive, ineffective, expensive, and invasive medical procedures, with little individualized attention and many side effects. Our nation’s healthcare spending is out of control and yet our health metrics show that the conventional medical system is failing us when it comes to pain, chronic disease, mood disorders, and more. People are looking for other answers. Over the past ten years, integrative medical solutions have become an increasingly important part of public health research, funding, and consumer interest. From governmental spending to non-profits to media attention to individual choices, the health and wellness movement is strong and getting stronger. 

Read the Integrative Health Policy Consortium's report "Integrative Health and Medicine: Today's Answer to Affordable Healthcare" to learn how patient-centered, integrative, holistic healthcare:

  • improves health
  • increases cure rates
  • decreases incidence of chronic disease
  • lowers average numbers of hospital days and duration of stay
  • decreases incidence of surgeries
  • lowers pharmaceutical use

Whole person care means treating the patient’s body, mind, emotions, and spirit, and acknowledging that all of these levels come into play in the creation of health or illness. Person-centered care avoids expensive complications, dangerous side effects, and unnecessary interventions by focusing on holistic treatments and lifestyle recommendations. More and more research is showing that through holistic healthcare and lifestyle changes, individuals can be measurably healthier, avoid chronic disease, be better satisfied with their care, and spend less money.

Another important idea is that of therapeutic order. Therapeutic order means starting with the safest, least invasive, lowest cost treatment first. If that doesn't work, a doctor would recommend a treatment that is slightly riskier, more invasive, and more expensive. Integrative medicine adheres to the principle of therapeutic order: starting first with the gentlest therapies, evaluating their effectiveness, and then utilizing stronger tools or referring out as needed. Integrative medicine uses all available medical modalities to find the treatment that is most appropriate for the patient—and not just for a short-term fix, but rather for long-term health and vitality. 

As a public health strategy, we must begin utilizing the tools of integrative medicine more broadly to prevent and treat serious disease. In order to do so, this medicine must be accessible and affordable to everyone, not just the wealthy. That's our mission at Blue Island. 

 

Samara Reigh