The Healthcare Problem
US healthcare is the most expensive in the world. In 2007, 45% of Americans were living with one or more chronic disease(s) and that 45% accounted for 75% of the almost $2.4 trillion spent on health care that year. About $3 out of every $4 spent on healthcare is used to treat chronic and degenerative illnesses with many of these resulting from or being compounded by lifestyle habits. Examples are heart disease, stroke, lung disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, and many digestive, inflammatory, and hormonal illnesses.
What is Effective Healthcare?
Conventional medicine can be invaluable. For severe trauma and life-threatening infections, it is the first option. For health maintenance and treating chronic degenerative diseases, it’s not usually the best option.
What to do instead? Restore function. For most people who have health problems the key issue isn’t disease, it is dysfunction. There are parts and systems in their body that don’t work right.
Systems Driven Healthcare
Systems-driven healthcare is another way where the focus is restoring function of body systems – physical, neurological, biochemical, mental, emotional. In this system the physician acts as a catalyst for the patient to heal, and as a teacher for the patient to know how to practice self-care customized to each individual’s needs based on genetic constitution and vision.
Functions of body systems are measurable through physical exam and lab findings. Restoration of body functions is the means to restoring the body’s ability to heal (allostasis) and maintain health (homeostasis).
Most diseases we face in our culture today are functional rather than pathological diseases…or, at least, they start out that way.
Type 2 diabetes is an example of this pattern. It starts out as a condition called metabolic syndrome and ends with severe cardiovascular and kidney failure, amputation, death…
Yet, throughout much of that spectrum, function can be restored and the results measured. If a patient knows what to do and does the work, they can heal, and they can prove it using the same gold-standard laboratory testing that conventional medicine uses.
This approach reframes healthcare from being reactive (symptom-focused) to proactive (function-focused).
What Does System-Driven Healthcare Look Like?
The initial phase of functional healthcare looks familiar in that the traditional tools of history, physical exams, laboratory testing, and imaging are used. Ultimately, diagnosis, though, will include both the illness and the cause(s). In treatment, both the illness and the cause(s) of illness are addressed during care toward restoring function to physical, neurological, biochemical, mental, and emotional systems.
Does This Work?
Results are measurable using medicine gold standards – physical, neurological, and orthopedic exams and laboratory findings. And, by being in the presence of a patient’s joy as their health improves.