Putting a Microscope on Today’s Healthcare Delivery System
Does the healthcare delivery system work?
It is a huge, multi-faceted question, one that demands nuance and objectivity, professional and personal experience. In this article, I will break down the problem with today’s healthcare approach and offer a solution that is as simple as it is profound: we must put the patient first.
The Problem with Today’s Healthcare System
Healthcare costs in the United States are skyrocketing – and have been for decades. I’ve seen it first-hand; shrinking third-party reimbursement will be a reality for the foreseeable future, and it is this combination that unloads tremendous stress on the business of medicine.
According to Harvard Business Review, “Healthcare leaders and policymakers have tried countless incremental fixes – attacking fraud, reducing errors, enforcing practice guidelines, making patients better consumers, implementing electronic medical records – but none have had much impact.”
Furthermore, the current delivery model, one that I do not subscribe to, corrals patients into “sick care” by focusing solely on managing symptoms of chronic diseases. It is reactive medicine, and it does not offer patients solutions that address the root causes of their illnesses.
After a diagnosis is made, the patient is no longer a welcome participant in their own care. Instead, the focus is on the disease, and the patient is left at the door.
The result: uneven quality despite clinicians’ best intentions and a failure to change the trajectory of patients’ lives or inspire the hope of restoring resilient, life-long health.
I did some research, and the data paints a vivid picture. In neurology alone, the numbers are staggering:
- 6 million in the United States with Alzheimer’s disease
- 16,000 with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- 930,000 with Parkinson’s disease
- 1 million with multiple sclerosis
- 38 million with migraines
Moreover, it is now recognized that with conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, a pre-symptomatic disease phase begins 10 to 20 years before the illness manifests. Between those in the pre-symptomatic and those diagnosed are individuals with mild symptoms that remain, for the most part, functional but are imminently approaching life-changing tragedy.
The United States of America is home to approximately 56 million people over the age of 65, with estimates suggesting that between 20 and 25 percent of the group suffer from mild cognitive impairment.
A 2013 report in the journal Neurology published by the American Academy of Neurology projected that by 2025 there would be a 19 percent shortfall of available neurologists to care for patients. This scarcity will further exacerbate long wait times and, for some, result in a complete lack of access, unnecessary suffering, and even death. As a healthcare practitioner with patients’ well-being as my top priority, these realities are more than unsettling.
The Solution: Patient-Centered Care
I understand that clinicians and hospital-based facilities need to be competitive (that is, competing on value and quality) and profitable in this ever-changing healthcare environment. Moreover, we need to re-imagine the healthcare delivery model. Our current chronic disease management model will not suffice – to me, it is simply not good enough.
Accomplishing this shift is no easy task. It demands future-thinking organizations to step up and provide innovative solutions to healthcare that consistently and reliably attract new patients and build loyalty with established patients through value-driven offers. It requires these organizations to offer patients a full and comprehensive toolbox of customizable solutions. Treatments must be organized around patients’ needs and wants and what they are willing and able to do to change their health and wellness trajectory.
This shift, which I put into practice, represents an acknowledgment of the unique narrative of every individual who reaches a crucial turning point in the wellness-illness continuum: they recognize they are ill and are willing to embrace one or more of a range of options available to them in the hopes of getting better.
It reflects and supports a delivery system that appreciates the multitude of causes and treatment strategies for any given illness. What I do is holistic, embracing both traditional options – pharmacotherapy, allied health services, surgical intervention, nuclear medicine – and lifestyle, environmental and regenerative medicine approaches.
A 2015 paper in the journal Nature emphasizes the value and validity of my healthcare strategy. It found that up to 90 percent of cancers are not bad luck but arise due to lifestyle choices and environmental factors. Utilizing the unconventional medicine approaches I include in my toolbox may not cure all cancers, but they will likely make treatments more effective and help patients sustain a higher quality of life.
My proposed solution empowers the healthcare delivery systems to follow the highest standards of current medical care, fully reimbursable under the third-party payer system, and defensible in peer review or a court of law. At the same time, it can package an array of direct-pay options not covered by traditional third-party payers, which have the potential to raise the bar on outcomes patients can achieve.
In my world of value-based healthcare, the rewards are bilateral. The integrative approach is better for the patient and measurable by the hospital administrators and clinicians like me, who can demonstrate that these solutions result in the outcomes their patients desire. It also provides an uptick in profitability and patient loyalty.
Critically, it is inherently patient-centered. And that is my mission.
Experience the Future of Patient-Centered Care Today
I and the team at Sharlin Health and Neurology uphold a functional medicine approach to support and treatment. That means I focus on treating the individual, not the disease, by pinpointing and addressing the root causes of illnesses.
I welcome patients who have bounced from doctor to doctor looking for a solution, for hope, for an answer other than “There’s nothing we can do.” I welcome patients who do not want to be reliant on drugs and are prepared to put in the hard yards to achieve the unachievable, to slow, reduce, or eliminate their ailments for good.
I put the future of your health in your hands. You have control. You are empowered to take meaningful strides toward living the life you desire.
It all starts with a discussion. Please get in contact today to schedule your initial consultation. My dedicated, multi-disciplinary team is ready to provide the personalized advice you have been seeking.