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September 6, 2016

Food For Thought
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The Future of Healthcare

We are fortunate in developed countries to have an established healthcare system in place; but is the system built to care for our health, or to manage acute illness and chronic disease?

The current medical standard of care is well equipped to handle acute cases, and in this application, is extremely successful. There is no place I’d rather be than in the hospital if I were in a life-threatening emergency state. In fact, the medical system has saved my life at least once.

This, however, begs the question of how effective the healthcare system is at preventing illness and addressing chronic conditions. With many of us personally dealing with a chronic health condition, or aiding in the care of a loved one, it quickly becomes clear that the healthcare system is ill-equipped to disseminate the appropriate care and information to support healing and build optimal health. It simply wasn’t set up for this.

What Does the Future of Healthcare Look Like?

The future of healthcare involves aligning with both a medical practitioner and an integrative healthcare team. This ensures access to the best of both worlds. The medical system offers outstanding acute care and advanced testing, while integrative practitioners offer prevention strategies and less invasive immediate and long-term solutions. The future of healthcare can happen right now, but it is up to the patient to put it into action.

For example, consider a situation in which a patient requires antibiotics. Antibiotics are a highly effective treatment for killing pathogenic bacteria. The downfall with this treatment is that these drugs also kill the good bacteria. Probiotic supplements, which help to reinstate these good bacteria, have been shown in studies to increase the efficacy of antibiotics and help restore health after the therapy.

A recent study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology including 3,164 subjects, concluded that using probiotics to prevent antibiotic therapy side-effects is an effective therapy. 1

Most medical doctors are not educated on the beneficial effects of using probiotics during and after antibiotic treatment. Integrative healthcare practitioners, however, work to restore the body to its optimal state. They might opt for a course of probiotics, as well as a digestive healing protocol while ensuring that there are no interactions with the patient’s medical treatment.

It is clear that a serious paradigm shift needs to take place in the healthcare system. It is a system that is designed for damage control rather than prevention. A solid understanding of how modern medicine can integrate with natural therapies can change the efficacy of healthcare.  Both systems have their role and their place, and when combined in a complementary treatment plan, the rate of success is dramatically increased.

As a society with dramatically increased rates of chronic degenerative health challenges,  it is not a question of choosing one over the other, but instead understanding how both systems of healthcare can work together. That is the future of healthcare.

References:

  1. McFarland LV. Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhea and the treatment of Clostridium difficile disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2006 Apr;101(4):812-22.