I've noticed a series of Flonase commercials on TV all using a similar theme to drive their message. The opening dialog is, "You would not accept an incomplete job from anyone else, so why accept it from your allergy pills?" We see images of either a dog lying in a half built dog house, or a dog recently groomed with a half shaven fur coat, or a lawn showing it only partially mowed. If you watch TV, you will see one or all three of these commercials. I suggest you forget about the rest of their message and let these TV spots serve as an anchor to remember my message. You would not accept an incomplete job from anybody else, so why accept it from your doctor?
Sadly, in most cases, that is exactly what I see. An example of this fact becomes obvious with just a glance of the lab-work performed by their doctor. A glance is all the time it takes because the quantity of tests are often small and clinically inadequate. This is the consequence of symptomatic based health care. The health care provider becomes too narrow in their observation of their patient, by fixating on fixing the symptom and not searching for the causation. Unfortunately the old adage, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" is what happens. That may be fine for repairing your automobile or some type of mechanical machinery, but not the human body.
My intent is to not malign health care providers, but rather to ask the patient to open their eyes to what is possible and to expect more from their health care providers. For the betterment of healthcare in our country, everyone needs to know there is more healing potential available than what mainstream medicine and their message delivers. Maybe the reason why so many people accept an incomplete job from their doctor, is because they do not know to expect more from them.... And maybe their doctor delivers an incomplete job because they are either not expected to, or they do not know that there is more to deliver.
Going on that premise, it is fair to say the responsibility for improving the quality of our healthcare system is on us? Demand more. How? Start by asking some simple questions. When your doctor recommends a liver damaging statin drug, ask why is my cholesterol elevated? When an energy draining blood pressure medication is prescribed, ask why do I have high blood pressure? When you are told to start taking a brain numbing, highly additive sleep aid, ask why do I have sleep issues? That does not seem too unreasonable, does it? Here is the hard part. Require a good answer.
Ask me; I'll give you a good answer. My scope of practice does not include prescribing drugs. I don't rely on using medicines that only address symptoms at a superficial level, therefore I have to find the underlying causes. This forces me to look deeper, to explore the function of the disturbance. Ironic is how often my biggest obstacle to finding an authentic solution is thwarted by the side effects and metabolic distortions elicited by the drugs initially prescribed as a solution.
Do you think the following person is accepting an incomplete job from their doctor? Bob has a concerning symptom and goes to his family doctor. After taking a history and a brief exam, his doctor says, "let's run some tests." Bob is thinking, that's great, my doctor is going to get to the bottom of this problem. I pay a lot of money for health insurance and it should provide me the benefit of getting adequate lab-work when I need it. His doc then says "yeah we are going to run a comprehensive metabolic panel, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis."
Bob is now thinking, wow those tests sound like a big deal, really comprehensive and complete. At this point, he is probably also thinking that his doctor is doing a complete job. But what if he knew that the retail cost for those impressive sounding lab tests was a mere $74? Bob may say, "That's all? My monthly insurance bill is expensive and this health issue is really effecting the quality of my life; I deserve more. I almost pay that much for an oil change." But wait, there's more. What if he knew that those same three tests can be paid out of pocket for under $20?
Well I'm here to tell you that is fairly close to what your get in most cases, and certainly what you receive as part of your annual check up. WebMD states that these three tests ($20) is the routine lab testing recommendation as part of the annual check up. Additionally, the American Heart Association recommends a lipid panel thrown in every 4 to 6 years. Okay fine, let's live large on the testing. That lipid panel will cost an extra $7.
Are you thinking, why does our health care system use such a small set of tests as part of an annual check up exam? To be fair, these limited lab panels are valuable in a disease care model. Notice I said disease care, not health care. Because the combined results of these four lab panels ($27) can still show blatant full blown diabetes, or a raging lipid imbalance, or severe anemia, or a compromised immune system. The next question you should ask, how does this annual check up provide early detection for disease when the findings become valuable only after advanced deterioration of health is present? Ask your doctor that question too.
Look down on our healthcare system with a 30,000 foot view, and you see the same dynamics playing out in various formats. Whether it's the doctor's office (small), the neighborhood emergency medical clinic (medium), or a hospital (large); each deliver the same product although this is not so obvious on the surface.
Regarding your neighborhood emergency medical clinics and hospitals, it is easy to see that these are both outlets to dispense emergency crisis care, or at least some extreme medical type procedure. People don't go there for wellness or disease prevention care. If the doctors and their staff saved your life, then they did a complete job.
It's in the everyday doctor's office where the mix up happens. The unsuspecting health seeking individual arrives at their doctor's office at a prearranged appointment time instead of an unexpected emergency arrival. This person has the same health concerns, with a mixture of pain, suffering, fear, and frustrations, as you would see in an emergency room... but to a lessor degree of course. They still have time to figure things out, make lifestyle changes, and get better with gradual intervention. But what I often see is the doctor still operates in a similar fashion as the hospital doctor. Run a limited set of tests, target the "issue," and strive to get it to stop.
Not enough attention is placed on prevention, or reading between the lines to forecast potential health issues on the horizon. I know because to effectively do this, more lab-tests would have needed to be ran, and I rarely see that. You can try to change your doctor's approach, but I really doubt that will be successful. Instead, opt to not play the game. Take your health matters into your own hands. Run your own lab work. And run a large enough panel that the findings really show you pertinent information that can be used toward treating current and future health concerns.
We can help you with that pursuit. Some of you already know, but it is important to let all of you know that I have an arrangement with Quest and LabCorp to offer lab-work for a fraction of the cost. I put together a bundled group of tests that I venture to say goes way beyond any lab-work you have previously had, and all for $160. The retail cost for this set of tests would be well above $1000.
Just because you see me, a chiropractor, does not mean that your primary health concern is limited to a bone, joint, muscle, or nerve interference. Your neck or back pain could very well be originating from some metabolic issue. In fact, if there is a health problem, you can bet there is a metabolic imbalance. To truly provide wellness care, we need to take a look at your structural/neuro/muscular patterns and your metabolic/chemical/nutritional patterns. We all know blood work is effective for finding disease, and with a little more blood, it can become much more effective at preventing disease too.
PS. Don't let your insurance company or your doctor get in the way of being truly healthy.