A number of recent news articles on the increase in, and treatment of, chronic pain and chronic disease left me upset and frustrated (e.g. More Young Canadians Than Ever Hit with Type 2 Diabetes – The Vancouver Sun – January 29, 2015 and Solving the Painkiller Crisis – The Globe and Mail – Published Friday, Oct. 03 2014).
Upset and frustrated, because before researching our chronic disease challenges, I hadn’t realized the toll chronic disease is taking on our health – physically and economically.
Frustrated, because it is an unnecessary toll. All of us can choose to be healthy. Many major chronic diseases are often associated with lifestyle choices. And they’re all on the rise in BC. In fact, they’re the largest cause of death and disability in this province. They’re also putting our health care system under tremendous pressure – to the tune of billions of dollars a year. That said, clearly, the winds of positive change are blowing. Health promotion, disease prevention and integrative care have emerged as a major movement in recent years. For example, integrative cancer care is one of the fastest growing areas of cancer treatment. Leading US cancer hospitals, including Dana Farber in Boston, Sloan Kettering in New York and MD Anderson in Houston, have all successfully implemented integrative cancer care programs.
Diabetes and mental health organizations in BC are starting to develop more holistic patient-centered programs focused on nutrition, supplements, exercise, stress reduction and positive social support. These organizations and institutions now recognize that health promotion and prevention strategies are essential, not only as part of a sustainable healthcare system, but also as an important component to our economic well-being.
Opportunity to Innovate
What was once considered complementary medicine is now mainstream.
The British Medical Journal, for example, recently published an article entitled “Let the Patient Revolution Begin” on May 14, 2013. The article mentions that advocacy for patient engagement is driven by the belief, and backed by some evidence, that engaging patients will reduce healthcare costs through the avoidance of unnecessary treatment. Some have argued that patient engagement in health is the “blockbuster drug of the century and will deliver equivalent dividends.”
A recent study published in Health Affairs looked at the role that patients play in determining health-related outcomes. Researchers found that patients who were more knowledgeable, skilled, and confident about managing their day-to-day health had health care costs that were eight per cent lower in the base year and 21 per cent lower in the next year compared to patients who were not as aware of how their choices impacted their health. I believe that the greater the awareness of and engagement in ones’ health, the higher the individual’s sense of empowerment. Empowerment fosters resilience and autonomy. An empowered patient and public is healthier and less dependent on the healthcare system. The empowered patient will lead the way in creating a lasting impact in our communities and a more sustainable healthcare system.
Part of the Solution – It’s Time in Now to Take Action
As CEO of Pure Integrative Pharmacy I invite you to inform, educate and empower yourself. Take a moment to register for one of seminars and like us on Facebook for evidence-based health news, recipes and seminar notices. In addition, we ask that you stay connected via this e-newsletter and share this information with your family, friends and colleagues at work.
Bob Mehr, CEO