Our current paradigm of dealing with illness hasn’t changed much since the Renaissance–we wait until the onset of symptoms and then seek treatment. This typically involves a hastily scrambled barrage of pathology and imaging tests, huge doses of drugs, and expensive hospitalizations.
This is reactive sick care.
This is bad. Such way of dealing with illness in the existing US legal and incentive framework in healthcare contributed to an increase of the cost of healthcare per person from $4.8k in 2000 to $11.6k today, resulting in the highest percent of spend of national income on healthcare of any country.
What if we switched our paradigm to preventive healthcare?
What if instead of fighting the symptoms of diseases and always being one step behind, we took a proactive approach and fought the causes, rather than the symptoms? Why not avoid preventable illnesses altogether? As per Sun Tzu, the best victories are those where you even didn’t have to fight a battle.
The continual advancement of technologies such as genomic testing and perfection of existing ones, such as preventive screenings, give us a real chance to shift the paradigm from reactive sick care to preventive health care, where we avoid mental and physical suffering and the financial cost of fighting diseases.
- Preventive medicine allows early detection and diagnosis of many diseases, including cancer, which has a tremendous impact on the chances of survival. For example, the discovery of lung cancer at stage I leaves a patient with a 49% chance of survival, whereas discovery in stage 4 gives only 1%. The time between those two stages can be less than a year, which highlights the importance of proactive screening.
- Preventive medicine allows solving problems before they arise – for example, one of the most efficient preventive procedures is a colonoscopy, which allows healthcare professionals to conduct the colonoscopy and simultaneously remove cancerous polyps, thus eliminating or postponing the risk of colorectal cancer for years.
- Preventive medicine reduces mortality – according to research, adherence to preventive screening guidelines reduce mortality from this disease by 20%, colonoscopies reduce the probability of colorectal cancer by 65%, and a simple flu shot reduces mortality by 50% v. control group.
- Preventive medicine ties directly into changing your lifestyle, which is the ultimate preventive “technology”. Do you know that people who exercise at least 150 minutes a week have a 20% lower all-cause mortality? Or that eating nuts has been associated with a 24% lower death risk? Tying lifestyle and diet into full preventive medicine gives the biggest promise in healthcare.
- Preventive medicine reduces the overall cost of healthcare, even adjusting for the cost of testing people who will never develop any symptoms. The cost of a flu shot is $25, while an average person typically pays $130 to visit the doctor and purchase necessary drugs, and that’s without accounting for the lost time at work and the resultant loss to the overall economy. If we manage to achieve lifestyle change as part of prevention, the savings can be enormous. Geisinger conducted a test recently by sponsoring delivery of healthy meals ($2,400 per annum per person) to its most “at-risk” population, which resulted in savings per pilot patients of $48k to $240k per year, mostly due to lower treatment cost for diabetes. Patient’s HbA1c levels dropped by 2.1% v. 0.5-1.2% achieved by medication.
So if preventive healthcare is so effective, why don’t we do more of it?
Firstly, it is not good for big business. If you do all the available preventive tests, you end up visiting doctors and staying in hospitals less often, which limits revenue potential of big healthcare groups. If you get your flu shots, manage your blood pressure well, and eat lots of broccoli and ginger, you don’t buy many drugs, which makes big pharma unhappy. If you exercise and manage your glucose well, you don’t need lots of stents and other equipment, which is bad for many medical device manufacturers. This is why those big lobby groups do not want you to be healthy. It is better for them if you are chronically sick, but not dead, because then you maximize their revenue-generation potential.
Secondly, as human beings, we are not good at doing simple, small things consistently, which add up to good results. They seem too boring for us to matter. They aren’t immediate enough. In 1847, a Viennese obstetrician deduced that by meticulous washing of hands, he was able to reduce mortality from perennial fewer from 20% to 1% at his ward. His observation and obvious recommendation (implying that they do not wash their hands well enough) was so offensive to other doctors, that he was fired from his job. Even today, in many first world hospitals, many infections happen due to violation of simple hand washing protocols. Preventive medicine suffers from the same bias: everybody knows it’s good, but it’s too dull and boring to worry about.
You’re alone in your fight for your health. In fact, you’re fighting against the billion-dollar budgets of big pharma, medical device manufacturers, and huge healthcare groups. And you’re fighting against your own apathy and natural aversion to doing boring and healthy things.
This is why we created Healthdom. Our mission is to help people stay healthy as long as possible outside of a clinic or hospital. Our mission is to keep you healthy, using the latest preventive medicine technologies, such as genomic profiling, behavioral data analysis, and demographic analysis.
Stay healthy against all the odds, stand up to those big lobbies, eat well, and exercise. Don’t line the pockets of big pharma by becoming a lifetime consumer of their drugs. Let Healthdom help you. And help yourself by making healthier choices and remembering to schedule your simple, free, or inexpensive preventive procedures and avoid future disease.
Rise and fight for your own kingdom of health!