Though 2017 is closing with a booming stock market that equals wealth for the U.S., the subject of health [care] for our population will not end quite as positively.
In addition to rising insurance costs and deductibles, the U.S. population is dealing with deep-seated confusion and anxiety over tax reform law that takes coverage away from millions, and threatens medicine.
We live within a broken system with few incentives to providers for promoting ‘health’. As such, this system cannot effectively perform to prevent disease—both physical and psychological in nature.
The ongoing struggle against the core determinants of health remain impediments to true prevention and health creation.
This ugliness is antithetical to the average person or family; it is nearly impossible to achieve and maintain homeostasis. It’s a perplexing environment for those who do not have the basic ‘health promotion’ education, or the wherewithal to invest in their own wellbeing.
Herein lies another problem: the average person continues to be dealt the status quo of health policies driven by special interest groups which have substantial investments in maintaining certain norms, and which continue to promote strategies that lead to poor health.
Once our key health institutions are adequately resourced, and directed to consistently educate the population on modifiable lifestyle risk factors to prevent disease and support health creation, the tide will begin to shift.
Until then, we have something called integrative health…
The good news, running parallel to the depressing realities described above, is that there continues to be a steady, positive drumbeat of activities within lifestyle medicine, integrative medicine, and functional medicine. There has been movement—surge and presence—for which we can be incredibly proud, and remain hopeful for its continued ascent.
As he does each year, our field’s de facto integrative health historian, John Weeks, offers his picks for the Top 10 integrative health milestones for 2017.
As Weeks’ piece illustrates, this has been another uber-productive year, with plenty of positive action and initiatives to get excited about. Progress may be slowed by economic or political events, but the rise of integrative health remains inexorable.
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The past half century of this industry’s evolution and growth attests to this fact: true healthcare—disease prevention and health creation—will ultimately win out over any political agendas shaped in four- or eight-year increments.
The reasons for this are simple enough to understand: disease prevention, reversing chronic disease via lifestyle approaches, and focusing on root causes across medical conditions, will ultimately be proven more cost effective than managing chronic morbidity and comorbidities.
We also know that a healthy workforce equates with increased productivity and an overall healthier society, with reduced absenteeism and presenteeism (working while sick). What could be better for the economy, long-term, than a healthy and productive population?
Integrative Health—by Necessity—Operates with a Long View
Ours is not a well-coordinated industry; there is much room to leverage our power in numbers and get behind common causes and goals. We must become more sophisticated in disseminating new research findings, and nimbler in defending against a, thankfully, shrinking cast of skeptics who are on the wrong side of history.
Meanwhile, our long view approach will come into crystal focus, and coalesce with large and growing groups of individuals and communities that truly understand they must take personal responsibility for their own health.
Most people—at least here in the U.S.—are aware that a significant portion of their income goes directly to insurance premiums and is used to directly pay for medical services because of high insurance deductibles.
Over time, more folks will come to recognize that, because of those increasing premiums and gargantuan deductibles, there is an opportunity to look at how health creation (prevention of illness) can be factored in so that families may rarely have to access their insurance and pay a deductible.
Enter the Millennials
Though still young (between 18 and 34), Millennials are the most populous generation, having surpassed Boomers. This new generation will not put up with the ‘old-fashioned’ services currently provided by hospitals.
Millennials do not like ‘wasting time’ in doctors’ offices or in hospitals. They are all about self-care, self-efficacy, and technology—gaining access to high-quality medical information and looking for the most cost- and time-efficient ways to manage their health. Millennials demand customer service.
Will the savvy consumers in this bracket fall into the trap of ‘health circumstances’ that have plagued generations before them? I am betting no.
All signs STILL point to integrative health—and the core determinants of health—as the only logical prescription for the New Year… and all those to follow.
FON is a leading integrative health and medicine business development and strategy consulting firm. FON specializes in custom solutions for growing patient volume, developing programs, and increasing product sales. Our practical business models are driven by innovative marketing, clear messaging, and customer engagement via branded storytelling.
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