This is a topic very close to my heart. I started out studying Pharmacy because I wanted to work in healthcare. Health was an area that always appealed to me more than business or finance or other creative professions. At the time I didn’t know that business, finance and creative marketing can in many ways influence healthcare. I was naive, I went into health because I wanted to help people and I still believe that is why most people go into it. I was good at caring for others and I loved learning information about how things worked and what better and more fascinating “thing” than the Human Body.
However, what I have come to appreciate more recently is that the current healthcare system is less about healthcare and more about disease management and could actually be renamed more appropriately to sickcare.
Chronic diseases such as diabetes, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, depression, ADHD, anxiety, GERD and more are crippling our healthcare system. The current health situation is the worst it has ever been. Think about this for a moment:
– Over half of adults take prescription medications
– 90% take over the counter medicines
– Autism prevalence has more than doubled since 2000 (not due to increased diagnosis or detection)
– The number of people diagnosed with depression is increasing by 20% each year.
– This is the first generation of children in modern history that’s expected to lead shorter life spans than their parent. WOW.
For anyone with children, that is pretty scary news.
These points come from American data, but this is not confined to America, it’s becoming a world world issue and let me assure you it is definitely here in our back yards. I see it everyday.
The current medical system is fantastic for emergency and trauma care. If I am in a car accident I definitely want to be taken to hospital for treatment. This care has extended human life better than ever before. We live in an era were sight is starting to be restored to the blind. We can transplant organs and give life. Some of the stuff that is happening in this area of healthcare is out of a science fiction novel.
But when it comes to treating and preventing chronic disease or promoting health and wellness we are failing and honestly the system is not set up to deal with it. The system is entirely focussed on suppressing symptoms with drugs and or surgery. If you have high blood pressure, you are given a drug to lower it. If you have high cholesterol, you’re given a drug to lower that. If you have gall stones, they remove your gallbladder. There is very rarely any investigation into what is causing the rise in blood pressure or cholesterol or gallstones.
Yes the drugs can effectively bring those markers down or the surgery can remove the symptoms all together. But this treatment approach rarely addresses the real problem. And the real problem will almost always manifest into something else. This leads to a viscous cycle of multiple symptoms/diseases and multiple medications which can further impair body functions and lead you further away from health.
I want to share with you an analogy I recently heard that makes sense as to where we are at. Think of disease as a spectrum.
Because disease doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere. Before that you get malfunctioning systems cells, tissues that lead to disease and lastly symptoms. For example, Type 2 diabetes, doesn’t occur overnight. Insulin resistance precedes this and certain diet and lifestyle factors precede insulin resistance.
Picture on the left side of this spectrum you have the very beginning of disease (malfunctions) before it is even recognisable and then on the right side you have acute life threatening situation as close to death as possible. The current system is set up to intervene towards the far right side of that spectrum. And as mentioned we do this very well.
If you are having a heart attack, you are shuttled straight off to hospital given medication to control or assist the situation, surgery and recover and then go on with life. A job well done – life saved. Take on the other hand a person who gets diagnosed with Hashimoto Thyroiditis (the most common cause of hypothyroidism and a condition on the rise in women). Straight up you get a script for thyroxine are told you will be on it forever. Rarely are you told it is an autoimmune disease whereby your immune system is attacking it’s own thyroid gland and that this is not a good thing to be going on inside you. In most cases of Hashimoto’s patients have underlying issues with intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and issues with Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis Dysregulation and can be better management with some diet and lifestyle intervention to control and prevent subsequent decline in thyroid function if caught early enough.
But what happens is the system isn’t set up to look at the disease holistically or treat it with things other than medication. So the patient takes their medicine, feels better initially, then overtime due to further attack on the thyroid gland end up needing an increase in dose of thyroxine, start experiences the effects of low thyroid hormone output such as weight gain, depression, reflux and end up on medications to treat these symptoms. What if we could intervene before this? What if your symptoms of hypothyroidism were identified early and someone intervened? It would save a heap of money and a whole lot of heartache for the patient.
So if we are going to make a real impact on peoples health we need to be intervening as far to the left of the spectrum as possible – and this is possible through functional lab testing. This would save many millions of dollars. It would also empower people to take care of themselves to avoid sick care and embrace true healthcare where preventing disease and staying healthy is what you go to health professionals for rather than managing disease.
What if I told you this approach is in the pipeline!
Excited? I am. And I will make sure I am a part of it, because we all deserve to be healthy and happy and get the best out of life. This is not some hippy, alternate community, craze. This is a new model of understanding how illness develops and how to effectively intervene. It is backed by the latest research, a strong understanding on how the body works and it makes total sense. So I’m hooked. This is the health system I intended to go into.
A healthcare system where people are educated about their health, they understand what contributes to their health complaints, they have daily strategies that involve more than taking pills per day and in most situations their health is restored and they go on to live a healthy and happy life.
Stay tuned to find out more about how this can be achieved…