There are many things that I enjoy about my work — like the fact that I get to live and work in Southwest Florida and that I have the patients I have — but two of which I am most proud are:
- The fact that my practice was one of the first in the world to be certified by the Blue Zones Project (and, by extension, that the entire Southwest Florida region is now one of the Blue Zones), and
- The special relationship I have been able to cultivate with my friends and colleagues in the Naples medical community.
One Important Relationship
Most notable among these colleagues is the president and CEO of NCH, Dr. Allen S. Weiss. Dr. Weiss is not only amazingly intelligent and gracious, he possesses an unusual amount of wisdom that transcends medicine and business. Many of the physicians I have known over the years turn their nose up at chiropractic treatment, kinesiology, nutrition, acupuncture, and traditional medicine, but Dr. Weiss has been kind and generous with me and others who practice medicine outside of the current scope of “modern medicine.” I have shared his writing with you here in the past. He has even been my guest at our Fundamental Foods and Friends Dinners in the past. I like and respect him very much.
In his recent “Straight Talk” newsletter, he shared some powerful insights into the seismic shifts going on in the healthcare industry, specifically where hospitals and medical doctors are concerned. It’s understandable why so many of my colleagues in the medical field are quaking in their boots right now.
Money Is Changing Medicine
Money has a way of shaping industries permanently — in good ways and bad ways. I don’t think that is a surprise to anyone who has been watching the news for the last several years. No one really knows for sure how this new swing of the pendulum will play out. For example, hospitals are closing due to consolidation and an effort to maximize efficiency in the new climate of cost control. If you live in a big city, it’s probably not as big of a deal as it would be for people living in small towns, who will have to drive farther to see a doctor. For some people, this change doesn’t mean much. But millions of Americans have abdicated the management of their own wellness to other people, and those people work in hospitals, so any change to the current structure is a big deal to them.
Also, there are fewer doctors entering the workforce than retiring each year. Among those who are practicing, more are abandoning private practice and are moving to hospital-based practice. While the number of doctors is decreasing, the number of advanced nurses (ARNPs, CRNAs, Physicians Assistants, etc.) is growing. These nurses are highly-skilled, hands-on clinicians, but they don’t have all the schooling a medical doctor receives. That’s good for hospitals because it is less expensive to employ a team of good nurses than a team of medical doctors. What Dr. Weiss observed is that, “collaborative care teams will become standard best practices, and have already been shown not to increase costs or threaten quality of care.”
Outsiders Moving In
Then there is the matter of non-healthcare organizations entering the healthcare industry. It reminds me of the late 1990s when websites like WebMD.com emerged as online resources for people to get answers to their healthcare questions. When companies like Amazon, Walmart, JP Morgan, and Apple start taking a more active role in diagnosis and treatment, there is the opportunity for human doctors to be pushed to the curb. Think of all the daily functions we have abdicated to our phones, from waking up to scheduling our days, to meal planning, and so on. What would happen if we let Apple plan our health? Or Amazon? Amazon doesn’t even let their own employees stop working to use the restroom, for Pete’s sake.
Seeing A New Way
It is interesting to see Dr. Weiss’ perspective on this because he is both a physician and an executive. I think we would all understand if he felt very threatened by these changes, or if he saw it simply as a way to save money. Instead, he sees the greater opportunity for better healthcare. That takes real character.
My favorite part of his whole article is the idea I want to leave you with today.
Maybe my biggest beef with the standard American system of healthcare is that it takes a reactive approach to care, waiting for problems to emerge and addressing them with chemicals. I don’t think that was how we were designed to live, and I know we are capable of better.
I believe that the strongest healthcare model is a preventative one, where patients take responsibility for their own wellness on a day-to-day basis, protecting their bodies from disease through proper nutrition, movement, sleep, hydration, and other choices. It’s the simplest method of wellness, as well as the least expensive, and the most sustainable. The Blue Zones are a testament to the fact that good living is closely tied to longevity.
An Ounce of Prevention
Here’s what Dr. Weiss had to say about it:
What is missing (from the current healthcare model)? Prevention. How can we decrease the need for healthcare? The Blue Zones Project, a comprehensive, holistic, planned approach to community health and wellness that recruits a critical mass of community institutions, individuals, and government leaders to drive measurable improvement in the key metrics that affect health care costs (especially those related to chronic illness), has already demonstrated success. The Project is premised on extensive evidence-based research and fifteen years of validated results. To date, the Blue Zones Project has been rolled out in forty-three areas, nine states, and three million people around America; the results have been impressive. While many institutions can drive the Blue Zones model, healthcare providers often play a critical role in helping everyone live a longer, happier, and healthier life.
He’s right on the money.
The more people wake up and realize that they have been fed a steady diet of sugar, chemical preservatives, and laziness that is killing them slowly, the more they can make better choices for themselves. It doesn’t mean they will, but if they are armed with right information, their odds are better. We’ve already seen across society that educating people is not enough to change their behavior, but if they can see the value of prevention, some will choose it.
There’s Always An Outlier
Now, everybody has that one friend, brother-in-law, or co-worker who would rather eat garbage and take pills to stifle the symptoms than eat right and live healthily. The processed food industry’s media machine has had a powerful mind-controlling effect on our nation for over 50 years. People have formed habits around eating things that make them feel pleasure and pretending that the pain they feel later is a coincidence. They would rather feel the pleasure of overstimulating their neurotransmitters with sugar than eat for wellness. Then, they prefer to take chemicals that dull their sensitivity to the consequences of their food choices.
Just because you know the best thing to do doesn’t mean you will do it.
But, for those of us who are “woke” (I hate that expression) to the misinformation of the processed food industry, we can take appropriate action to preserve our own wellness, while the people around us are making choices that lead to sickness, disease, bankruptcy, and death.
Let’s Work Together
Fortunately, we are not alone in this pursuit of wellness. Dr. Weiss has seen the handwriting on the wall and is using his position of influence to lead his patients, his peers, and his industry to a better, more sustainable world. He has embraced the core values of the Blue Zones to put wellness in its proper priority in our lives and communities. Let’s work together to get the word out. Your friends and family don’t have to get sick and die prematurely. If they’re willing to leave behind the Standard American Diet and choose to Move Right, Eat Right, Think Right, and Live Right, they can live longer and enjoy their lives more than they ever have. And it will turn our collapsing medical industry around.
Take a few seconds now to share this article to your favorite social media platform. You never know who is in your circle of friends that has been looking for this information. God bless you, and thank you for being a part of the “Wellness Wednesday” family.
“At the end of your FEELINGS is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas