Moving Health Care Toward Prevention and Beyond

Health Care that restores and maintains normal healthy function of the body offers the greatest solution for our health care crisis.  Moving in the direction of “disease prevention” is a transformational shift, and while we are at it, we can do even more. To improve the health and performance of the American people, and to reduce long-term health care costs, it is essential that we move not just in the direction of prevention, but beyond it to the level of maintaining health.

A significant article came out in September’s New England Journal of Medicine titled, “From Sick Care to Health Care-Reengineering Prevention into the U.S. System”.  This article is amazingly similar to the first 30 pages of my book, Your Inner Pharmacy, in its assessment of the U.S. health care system.

One of the great similarities is the description of how “the acute care model” which remains securely embedded in every aspect of our health care system, is an obsolete model for chronic disease. The misapplication of the old acute care model is not only ineffective but is what sustains the current two trillion dollar a year “Disease Management Industry”.

Chronic Diseases, most of which are not diseases we catch or get infected with, but are ones that develop when the normal function of our bodies breaks down and is no longer able to maintain health, require a new model for effectively dealing with them. In my 2006 book, which is even more relevant today, I referred to the shift from acute to chronic diseases as the “New Landscape” of health and disease. Chronic diseases are now responsible for 78% of the dollars spent on health care in the U.S. each year.

It is critical for the health of the American people and the sustainability of the U.S. economy that we open our eyes and take a realistic look at chronic disease, prevention, and health care that seeks to restore and maintain normal function of the body throughout life.