Treating people, not patients

rxdrugsPOST SUMMARY:  70 percent of all Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs and according to the CDC, approximately 9 out of every 10 Americans that are at least 60 years old say that they have taken at least one prescription drug within the last month. Are we treating patients with an Rx when they might need other forms of treatments?

Via Vox: Health care in the United States is expensive. Insanely, outlandishly expensive. We spend $2.8 trillion on healthcare annually. That works out to about one-sixth of the total economy and more than $8,500 per person — and way more than any other country. If the health-care system were to break off from the United States and become its own economy, it would be the fifth-largest in the world. “It would be bigger than the United Kingdom or France and only behind the United States, China, Japan and Germany,” says David Blumenthal, executive director of the non-profit Commonwealth Fund.

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The best way for a doctor to make money in the United States right now is simple: prescribe treatments.

The American health-care system by and large runs on what experts describe as a “fee-for-service” system. For every service a doctor provides — whether that’s a primary care physician conducting an annual physical or an orthopedic surgeon replacing a knee — they typically get a lump sum of money.  But here’s the thing: most American doctors aren’t paid on whether they deliver that improved health. Their income largely depends on whether or not they performed the surgery, regardless of patient outcomes.

Then there are patients themselves.  American workers today are stressed and among developed nations, we are lost in taking time off and exercising.  This has led to an over dependence on prescription medications.  Why eat healthy to control cholesterol when we can take a stain? Why lose weight to control high blood pressure and ED when we have a wealth of prescription drugs available?

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A good friend of mine was recently told by his doctor to lose 15 pounds, but she also had him meet with a registered dietician to help him plan out his meals and isolate poor eating habits. The result was not only weight loss, but a more healthy person.  Isn’t that what we should be focusing on rather than just writing Rx’s?