We’re all familiar with the endless drug and health insurance advertisements that are shoved in our faces on an almost daily basis. We watch them on TV, hear them on the radio, and see them plastered across newspaper pages, magazines, and billboards along the expressway. It has become eerie how familiar they have become to us: a seemingly integral part of our everyday routines. What they really are is a sign of our failing healthcare system in terms of how modern healthcare has lost focus on the patient. At the end of the day, our healthcare is becoming less about the patient and more about the generation of money in the most efficient way possible (as it is, unfortunately, with most things). However, unlike “most things,” the damage that is being done to our healthcare system has created a much more sinister cycle of large companies and corporate-run hospitals profiting off of patients. Meaningful patient care is coming in second to profit.
The imbalance in how time is spent in the healthcare industry is severely one-sided. Too much time is spent on selling the next “miracle drug” and condensing hospitals rather than on the meaningful and worthwhile care of the patient. It is easier to throw another drug in our faces than to try and prevent another hospital visit altogether. This lack of proper care towards the patient has not only created this horrible cycle, but it can make people more dependent on this broken system. More often than not, patients are sent home with temporary solutions that either don’t solve the situation at all or make it worse, sending them right back to where they started. Since more resources are being spent on sending patients home with another temporary solution, the amount of time doctors are spending actually treating the patient has decreased. Doctors are evaluated on a volume and productivity model and not necessarily from a “healthy outcomes” standpoint. The average amount of time doctors spend with their patients on average is 17.5 minutes. Quick, easily prescribable solutions are the only ‘tools’ in the physician’s toolbox as they are encouraged to move onto the next patient. Preventative strategies and a more long-lasting solution are not feasible options in our current ‘drive-through’ healthcare model.
What we need are solutions that are meaningful and patients that are encouraged and supported to improve their overall health long after they’ve had their visit to the doctor. We spend about 88% of our time and money on medical services such as hospital visits when we should be investing our time on the things that truly make us healthy. Learning and practicing self-care and other healthy behaviors will help us prevent future illnesses and decrease our dependence on a failing healthcare system. Each person deserves to be treated in their own, unique way; the same solution cannot be expected to work for everyone. We cannot keep expecting the same drugs and treatments to have the same effect on everyone, especially if they aren’t even the right solutions to being with. We need a system that leads to more ‘well checks’ and less ‘urgent care’ visits.
Unfortunately, modern medicine has become so advanced that it has become easier to commercialize it and, therefore, harder to stop the corporate entities that may not have the patient’s wellness at the center of their business model. Each drug commercial, each hospital that is down-sized, is another step towards a largely unproductive and harmful future of our healthcare system and our overall future health.