Patients are harmed when we ignore the cause and simply confront the symptom. The physicians are harmed when we force them to be employees of insurance companies following insurance rather than medical guidelines. It is equally destructive when we make them pharmaceutical representatives, prescribing meds when they know so many other remedies such as a few days away and therapy would be best.
Integrative health departments and patient education programs are frequently unfunded or under-funded, depending upon volunteers to exist. Patients are opening to options which need to be valued and presented if the culture is to change.
Chronic illness versus acute care is the real culprit of health care expenditure. It is in the world of chronic care that the greatest patient education and life style shifts are needed. Taking the emphasis off of pharmaceuticals and emphasizing cures, or at the least minimizing of symptoms, can impact health costs, move our health care culture out of masking symptoms to one that, at the least, emphasizes health maintenance.
It takes time to educate patients who have been indoctrinated, through advertisements, to believe that a pill rather than exercise, healthy foods, or self-awareness, is the best long-term remedy. We, in the world of modern medicine, have created a culture that feeds on the immediate relief of pain or discomfort rather than the informed life-style of knowing what is best for ourselves and our patients.
Thankfully, and yet sadly, there are those who have moved beyond fighting the insurance and pharmaceutical companies and have opened independent medical practices that cater to both the patients and their own spiritual, mental and physical health. In addition, there are those who are working to create centers that nurture a culture of collaboration where the patients and small groups of physicians are working together to bring heart, soul, and humanity back into health care for all those involved.
In summary, to “Do No Harm” physicians, other medical providers, and patients must be the center of health care. All else needs to be considered peripheral. Insurance, pharmaceuticals, and hospitals, all have a place if and when they are needed. They, however, are the support services and if health care is going to return to truly being effective patient-centered health care, these support services can no longer be driving the train but must become simply the support-staff.
Literally, our lives, those of the providers and the patients, depend on it. Rather than being in a battle for power, we must create a culture that supports those Visionary Leaders who are ready, willing, and able to create a culture where medical care returns, with the gifts of modern science, to the art of healing on all levels.
That environment, that culture, will be healing for all those called to serve and all those who need balance, healing, and training in their lives.