Lifestyle Is Medicine
It sounds simple but lifestyle is medicine. Unfortunately, much of our daily lifestyle decisions have been removed from 10-15 minute window we have with a physician in the US “sick care” or “disease management” model. While an epidemic of chronic illnesses continues to inflict harm and drain financial resources, there has been little movement to address the real challenge in healthcare… the modern lifestyle. Luckily, many progressive-minded clinicians have come out in support of these social determinants of health.
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) is calling on the healthcare industry to put its focus on the social determinants of health and other root causes of chronic illnesses.
Too often, health industry policymakers focus on the quality or payment of care. And while those considerations are important, ACLM says the industry must also take a proactive approach to healthcare improvement. Addressing the social determinants of health, or the lifestyle factors that impact a patient’s ability to lead a healthy life, could prevent eventual chronic illness, the organization said in a recent statement.
Currently, 80 percent of the medical industry’s spending goes toward chronic care management. Instead of working to manage those costs, the industry should be focusing on the factors that could lead to the development of the chronic illness.
In doing so, policymakers could upend the healthcare industry to spark real change. A bolder strategy could be essential to affecting true improvement, according to Wayne Dysinger, MD, MPH, FACLM, a past president of ACLM.
“Much of the discussions around health care reform involve taking the same playing pieces and moving them around differently,” Dysinger explained. “There’s no real opportunity for a long-term win. Lifestyle Medicine uniquely offers completely new playing pieces, ones that address the root causes of our highest cost illnesses. It’s a big picture strategy, but likely the only thing that can really reverse the current cost, outcome and patient satisfaction challenges.”
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