A Paradigm Shift in Health Care
“If this system is working so well, why do we still have so many chronic diseases of aging?”
by Dr. Ron Kapp
Health, optimal wellness and enhanced longevity all go together. Our healthcare system, as it exists today, is a system of reactive care. In other words, wait until you get sick and then go to the doctor for the cure; this is commonly known as “silver bullet medicine.” Take the “silver bullet” pill, cure the disease, then wait until you get sick again before repeating the cycle.
Many people have logically asked the question: “If this system is working so well, why do we still have so many chronic diseases of aging?”
The answer to that simple question led to the development and promotion of what is known as “preventive wellness.” Obviously, prevention is far better than the need for a cure and typically much less painful. Additionally, in the long run, prevention is always less costly. This financial savings, in addition to peace of mind for some, had led to the offering of ‘preventive health check-ups.’
Preventive health check-ups come is all shapes and forms. The typical allopathic clinic doctor orders a few blood and urine tests, maybe a scan or two, perhaps a culture or a probe here and there, and subsequently declares you fit-and-ready to return next year for another annual physical. All well and good, but is it enough?
The next level up, and of course more costly and often not covered by insurance plans, are the ‘executive health packages.’ Some of these packages are employer-driven, many are internet-promoted, and some are just word-of-mouth referrals from friends and acquaintances. How can a normal person with little medical background knowledge choose the most appropriate preventive check-up package? A simple google search will leave even the most passionate person with a confusing array of options.
The fundamental problem of all preventive wellness check-ups is that people are not aware that all packages may not be appropriate for each and every person. How many analyses should the perfect package contain? There are a few basic annual tests that are appropriate for everyone – for example, the CBC (Complete Blood Count), the Basic Chemistry Panel (electrolytes, liver, renal, glucose), and even the Lipid Panel (cholesterol and its variants, triglycerides). Every medical doctor will order these foundational tests and the more progressive physicians will add on the next level of tests, consisting of some hormone (thyroid, male & female panels, cortisol), vitamin and mineral tests (vitamin D, magnesium, etc.), and maybe even some prevent screening tests that are most popular at the time. And then, it gets complicated.
They say the devil is in the details and nothing is more devilish than medical screening. There are virtually hundreds of risk factors for each of us and thousands of tests that can be performed. How many different tests are right for you? Is 100 good enough, maybe 200 will do the trick, how about 300? Are you happy now; is your physician happy! And then it really gets complicated.
Because of that ‘profound complication,’ the concept of personalized medicine arose. We each have unique physiologies, differing genetics, a plethora of environmental toxicities and added risk factors, such that only an in-depth and personal analysis can provide you the benefits you seek.
Some people try to do it all themselves. Many tests can be ordered online, with or without a doctor’s order. Then it simply becomes a matter of how much money you want to spend. But then, what do you do with the test results? Some people panic when they see any positive test, even though it may mean nothing. Some become anxious. Many then buy the “associated supplement” that is recommended, often by the same company that did the test. Bias abounds and currently the supplement industry is an un-regulated multi-billion-dollar bonanza for many.
It turns out that test-ordering and test-interpretation is an art. However, the art of medicine has become a complicated affair in the 21st century. Medical advances are busting the bank, confounding the physicians’ practices, and bewildering the patients. And therein rests the unique niche of personalized medicine.
Unfortunately, it takes significant time, added effort, and a dedicated passion by the physician to pursue this preventive journey. Sadly, it can be expensive, health plans frequently do not pay, and out-of-pocket costs will quickly soar.
Once again, the answer rests with the specialist in personalized medicine, with a passion for prevention. The sharing of your past medical history, sometimes even including your in-utero history, your family history, your genetic endowment, your past and current lifestyle, and most importantly your personal health-related concerns. Then, and only then, based on your age, sex, lifestyle and social factors, in addition to a thorough physical exam, can the preventive medicine physician offer up the appropriate work-up and follow-up recommendations that may benefit you in the long run on your quest to enhanced wellness and prolonged longevity.
Now I ask you, with all due respect, what typical medical clinic can do all that? Certainly, there are some. But I suggest there need to be more. Unfortunately, the healthcare system as currently organized offers little time, virtually no money, and even less interest in this journey of preventive medicine as just described.
Fortunately, and it is happening around the world, Wellness Resorts are taking up the slack. Global investments are being made to upgrade, raise the standards, and promote preventive medicine as a clinical modality. Partnerships are being developed between hospitals and wellness resorts (for example, the Tulah Property spearheaded by UAE-based KEF holdings and Meitra Hospital). Through the advent of in-house diagnostics, telehealth communications, and a burgeoning desire of all for preventive services, Wellness Resorts around the world are answering the call and people are responding. Utilizing the time and effort required in personalized medicine, resources can be diverted to detecting issues that are uniquely pertinent to you and you alone.
Wellness Resorts can provide the venue to offer personalized physician recommendations based on your discussions, the most up-to-date scientific research, and clinical judgment that focuses on what is most likely to be discovered, rather than casting a one-size-fits-all net over everyone and simply wait for a disease to show itself.
People want preventive wellness. People want what is good for them. Wellness Tourism is leading the charge in this paradigm shift of how medicine is, and will continue to be practiced.
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WTA Member, Dr. Ron Kapp MD, PHD is a Santa Barbara-based physician, author and anti-aging research clinician, who sees aging as a treatable “disease,” not an unavoidable fate. Classically trained in allopathic medicine (MD – UT Houston. PhD – UT Austin. Post Graduate – St. Louis University. Sports Medicine Fellowship – Albert Ludwigs University, Germany), Ron is passionate about functional medicine as a modality to prevent the chronic diseases of aging and prolong life. His mission is differentiating fact from fiction, hype from hope, and presenting seminars and workshops that integrate science with well-proven cultural therapies that have withstood the test of time. Dr. Kapp’s mission is differentiating fact from fiction, hype from hope, and presenting seminars and workshops that integrate science with well-proven cultural therapies that have withstood the test of time. He is available to present science-based workshops on the topic of Preventative Aging. Check out his website or connect with him via email.