We work with other medical providers in a team approach and for the past 28 years, people have been coming to us asking for help with:
- ADD, ADHD, Autistic Spectrum disorders
- Disc and Joint Diseases
- COPD, Emphysema
- Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease
- Fatigue, exhaustion, and lack of motivation
- Weight problems and dieting disasters
- Chronic pain problems and migraines
- Chronic anxiety, depression, and mood imbalances
- Hormonal problems
- Sleep problems.
- Cholesterol and triglycerides problems
- Blood sugar problems and insulin resistance
- Stress management, irritability, and feeling overwhelmed.
- Arthritis, Asthma, Colitis, Crohn’s, Diverticulitis, GERD
- Alzheimers, Parkinson’s and Brain Fog
- Heart Disease, Chronic Kidney Disease, Thyroid
- Scleroderma, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Sjogren’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and many of the other 180+ autoimmune diseases
- Help returning to an active lifestyle
- Optimizing their health and staying well throughout their lifespan
Next, she went to a medical physician (trained in acute disease care). He ran tests and tried antibiotics – no improvement. The wound progressed to a deep pocket – you could insert 3 fingers into it! Her MD referred her to a specialist and again more (acute care) tests – could not figure it out. Guessed at a diagnosis and sent her to yet another specialist. More (acute care) tests and not sure what it is.
Mary had now burned through over $10,000.00 of her precious savings with no answers and little help! She is faced with losing her home and declaring bankruptcy with her medical bills overwhelming her limited savings.
Sadly, I hear this type of story time after time.
What went wrong with our medical disease care system for Mary?
Almost 80% or our health care problems in America are now CHRONIC disease care problems.
Guess what kind of training our medical physicians in America receive? That’s right, virtually no training for CHRONIC disease. Chronic diseases are those that last over 90 days.
Doctors are trained in medical schools in America to treat acute diseases (last less than 90 days) like:
- Severe infections
- Broken bones
- Heart Attacks,
- Severe blood loss
- Trauma, wounds, and life-threatening crises
TV shows like E.R. portray the heroic efforts of our medical professionals saving lives with amazing trauma care surgery and miraculous medications.
Guess what kind of condition Mary had? She was suffering with a chronic autoimmune disease for which her doctors had little training or even the tools to help her.
Repeat this for almost 80% of our health problems – chronic disease – and we have an expensive mess!
This helps to explain how we spend more money per person (by far) on health care than any country on the planet and have a dismal, terrible, embarrassing Health System Ranking of 37th by the World Health Organization. We are doing so poorly that even countries like Columbia and Costa Rica beat us in the ranking. (1)
So What Is Wrong With Our Medical Training?
Halstead Holman, MD. Dean Emeritus of Stanford School of Medicine has written and published articles in medical journals such as the one below published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (2)
Chronic Disease—The Need for a New Clinical Education
The inadequacy of clinical education is a consequence of the failure of health care and medical education to adapt to 2 related transformations in the past 50 years that are central to good health care today. In the first, chronic disease replaced acute disease as the dominant health problem. Chronic disease is now the principal cause of disability and use of health services and consumes 78% of health expenditures. In the second, chronic disease dramatically transformed the role of the patient.
The differences between acute and chronic disease are substantial. Acute disease is episodic. The patient is usually inexperienced and passive while the physician administers treatment. (see the full text of the article at reference (2) )
Dr. Halstead writes that we need a new medical training approach for physicians to help those with chronic (long-standing) health problems. The acute care (emergency-room) model of health care in ineffective and far too costly for most of our chronic disease problems.
In the book, “Living a Healthy Life With Chronic Conditions”, co-written by Dr. Halstead, the approach is to teach people to manage their chronic disease – whether it be heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or asthma.
The book includes a nice chart contrasting the different care approaches. I modified and expanded the chart to create the chart below:
Since our medical providers are trained in only the acute care approach, they tend to view each patient through the lens of the acute care model. This is great for acute care problems, but what about chronic disease?
If the only tool you have is a hammer (acute care) you tend to see every problem as a nail. Far too often, the “hammer” of acute care treatment with powerful drugs and surgeries is used for chronic disease. This is like using a hammer to loosen a delicate Phillips-head screw – not effective and likely to cause more harm than good.
Our body is an amazingly complex, delicate biologic system. With chronic disease, we need sensitive treatment approaches to help shift this delicate system towards balance and Wellness. Using powerful drugs is like trying to use a hammer to kill a fly on a window. The heavy hammer is awkward and likely to miss – and the window pane is likely to suffer more harm than help.
Acute care “hammers”are simply the wrong tool for the job.
Another problem is that we expect our medical doctors to be experts in everything.
Dr. Alex Vasquez, a brilliant lecturer, author, and “triple Doc” – Chiropractic physician degree, Naturopathic Medical degree, and now a Osteopathic Medical Doctor degree – was describing his recent experience at a highly rated medical school as a 4th year medical student. His medical school professor came into the class and stated that, “Diet, nutrition, and lifestyle are profoundly important in health and disease”.
His professor then moved on to the next subject regarding pharmacology (study of drugs). That was the extent of his training regarding diet, lifestyle and nutrition in Medical School.
Without exception, my medical physician colleagues tell me they got “zippo, nada, nothing” regarding effective training in diet, nutrition, vitamins, or lifestyle. Expecting our medical physicians to be experts in these areas is unrealistic – they are experts in pharmacology – as we need them to be.
My MD colleagues and friends tell me that they often feel frustrated and ill-equipped for the chronic disease patients they see – they dread it, but are expected by their employers and insurance contracts to write a prescription and move on.
This helps to explain why medical providers sometimes do things that don’t make sense (and harm more than help) for those who struggle with a list of chronic diseases.
With few exceptions, my medical colleagues are highly trained, dedicated, caring professionals who provide the essential acute care when we need it. Asking these medical professionals to treat chronic disease without the needed training or tools isn’t fair to them or to their patients. Would you expect your dentist to do your dental care with gardening tools?
The far too few MD’s who do have training and experience in treating chronic disease have pursued this training on their own – often at great expense and risk of criticism from their peers. I applaud these courageous pioneers who are way ahead of the curve.
Another way to look at it is:
Acute Care Approach
- One problem
- One cause
- One treatment
This is called linear thinking. This approach is limited to acute care problems. The diagram below shows why this works so poorly for chronic care problems: