So the term healthcare is used over and over again. What does that mean? What does that mean to you? There are so many variations of this definition and depending on the source of whom you are speaking with. Some would say healthcare is disease prevention. Some would say it’s managing disease such as diabetes or high cholesterol. Some would say its access to a doctor or provider.
Health by definition is a state of being injury or illness free.
Heath care as defined by Websters dictionary states “the preservation of health by the treatment and prevention of disease by trained and licensed professionals.”
In the pursuit of health- the state of being injury or illness free, we think that this should be looked at as a goal. This goal of health in reality is a moving target. Our bodies are bombarded daily from viruses, bacteria, social pressures, psychological pressures, just to name a few. With so many forces working to impede health, we want to maximize our internal resources to keep us free from injury and illness. Health to us is finding a balance. If we look at the human landscape, there are three major components that comprise us- the body, the mind, and the spirit. If anyone of these three basic components are overpowering the other or lacking, then the achievement of health will fall short. Lets use an example-
Ronnie is a exercise machine. He works out 5-6 times per week, eats a very clean, non processed diet, drinks plenty of water, and tries to sleep adequately to feel refreshed. Most of us on initial impression would equate this person as a “healthy” person. However, at home, Ronnie has been having difficulty communicating with his wife, who feels he exercises too much and alienates the family. The more difficulty Ronnie has at home, he goes to his safe zone of the gym to release tension. This cycle continues to build. The stress at home continues to build. Ronnie is physically fit, but mentally is exhausted. This illustration example shows that truly to be free of illness and injury we need to look at all aspects to be truly healthy.
We believe that the pursuit of health (balance of the body, mind, and spirit) is grounded in the components of wellness- Health, Lifestyle, and Education. We feel that when incorporating these components into your life, then you can truly attain “health”.
So what is healthcare then? Is it going to the doctor to get advice? Is it seeing a counselor to discuss life stressors? Is it reading books and articles regarding lifestyle choices? Answer- ALL of the above. We need to look at healthcare from a different lens. Many people that I see in the office view healthcare in the form of doctors visits. These visits are based upon a recent illness or injury. Most folks are trying to get advice in how they can feel better. I would argue that treating an injury or illness is not healthcare. I call this sick care. Sick care is just one component of why I chose medicine as a profession, to help those that are ill or injured. It seems that this for most folks equates into healthcare. What about the times between illness and injury? What are the resources and plans that people are doing to PREVENT illness or injury. In the world of business, there is a notion to be PRO active, rather than reactive. Be the person that starts the trend, not follows it. That is my goal for the patients that I see.
I have patients that have diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol who for various reasons are on medication to help control these diseases. I check there numbers on a quarterly basis and many have achieved the status of having “controlled” numbers. My patients feel better, have no symptoms from their respective disease processes, and are happy that the blood tests reflect their hard work. Have they achieved health however? To me, NO.
Beyond the prescriptions that help maintain disease, we still need to address Lifestyle and Education to help these patients. Lifestyle choices are so important- the type of nutrition we take in, exercising our bodies, keeping our minds fresh, learning effective techniques for stress reduction are all critical. Education is the one component that goes overlooked in many offices. Doctors I feel are mostly to blame here. We all try to give advice and hope that our patients are listening. The question is whether they remember the advice given. Our practice writes down in detail and in non-medical jargon, plans for each patient. Our hope is that the patient will actually read what we wrote and keep our summaries like a cookbook of entries. Over time, we hope that their cookbook of entries gives them a knowledge base for making educated decisions.
So what is healthcare? It’s the pursuit of maintaining an illness or injury free life by incorporating a balance of the body, the mind, the spirit, through lifestyle choices and education.