The current approach to healthcare in the United States isn’t working.
Modern medicine has been a remarkable triumph. In the twentieth century, the development of antibiotics, antimicrobials, and vaccines eradicated a wide array of diseases that formerly killed millions of people.
Things have obviously changed. Now, most patients are coming to the doctor not to be treated for tuberculosis or pneumonia, but instead for ongoing treatment of chronic diseases, like atherosclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, cancer, etc. In fact, half of all Americans have a chronic disease, and seven of the top ten causes of deaths are chronic illnesses. No doubt, part of the reason for this predicament is simply because we are living longer, long enough to develop these conditions. Yet the burden of chronic disease appears to be cascading into younger generations. Diseases that were formerly only found in older people, like type 2 diabetes, are now being diagnosed more and more in children. It has gotten to the point that public health experts have projected that the steady rise in life expectancy of the past two centuries may be coming to an end.
This is an alarming trend – and very difficult to reverse.
Why? Unfortunately, chronic disease is a more complicated problem than infectious disease. We can’t eliminate atherosclerosis just by taking a pill or an injection. Conditions like diabetes and heart disease develop gradually over the course of decades and are closely linked to the patient’s diet, environment, genetics, and lifestyle habits. A 10-15 minute doctor’s visit can only do so much. These conditions demand a more complex intervention, with more active participation on the part of the patient and the medical practitioner. The modern medical model, relying upon a battery of pharmaceutical drugs to suppress symptoms, falls hopelessly short of addressing the root causes of these types of illnesses, and we’re all paying the price.
We’ve come a long way, but we can’t solve modern challenges using the methods of last century. We need a new system. And my guest today has a plan for how to make it happen.