Health or Disease

Health care in the United States is a commodity industry with disease the product.  As a doctor and health care provider I have been honed, trained and financially rewarded to treat disease.  Tests and procedures are how the health care industry makes money.  With the financial rewards coming from finding disease and treating that disease ... what incentive does medicine have for counseling prevention?  Preventing disease is counterproductive for health care's bottom line.  Spending time with patients is bad business. 

In 1970 one in twenty people in the USA had diabetes.  Now the incidence is at 4 of 20.  Disease that accompanies diabetes includes ... cancer, stroke, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, depression, anxiety and many other sick states.  Lifestyle is critical to our health.  Exercise, diet, sleep, relationships and engagement in life are the building blocks of a healthy person.  A healthy person is one that is balanced and engaged in physical/mental/emotional health.  Disease may still occur in this state and it occurs much less frequently.

All surgeries and all medicines have risks.  All surgeries and all medicines have indications and potential benefits.  Americans can improve their lifestyle to decrease their risks for the diseases of an unhealthy lifestyle.  Improving lifestyle is very low risk.  Using the diabetes shift in the last 40 years as a reference it seems likely that  3 of 20 or 15% of Americans can markedly improve their health through a shift in lifestyle.  I am highly competent in disease management.  I would rather use those skills after maximizing lifestyle improvement.  The resources of the US health care system should be used in full force for those that require them.  Remember that all of those interventions have risks.  I strongly encourage low risk interventions first.  Changing lifestyle is the lowest risk.

Those that follow the vision of a path towards health using all necessary tools will shift the current American norm.  My commitment is strong in staying current on disease management and I will keep my vision of encouraging a healthy life-style first.  Now, how are you doing with your exercise/diet/sleep and approach to stress?

Gary Thompson, MD

March 2nd