Why should I consider preventative health care? Shouldn’t I see the physician only when I am sick or injured? Why would I want to spend my money and time when I am feeling fine?
These are very good questions asked by the vast majority of people. The medical establishment in the United States has reinforced the prevailing view for years that medical care is for those who are ill, not the healthy. This is known as the “sickness model” of health care, and it in essence puts patients in a dependent role, assigning physicians as the healers who use the advances of science and technology to cure disease. In my opinion, this approach tends to lessen patient autonomy and personal responsibility. Ultimately, the “sickness model” is more expensive, with increased emergency room visits, hospitalizations, missed work and more reliance on the use of costly medical technology.
I believe that the “wellness model” makes more sense. This is the approach that alternative health care practitioners tend to follow, and I believe that traditional Western medicine should follow suit. I am not saying that we shouldn’t excel in treating those who are ill and suffering, but we need to encourage and promote maintenance of health. The physician becomes more than a healer in this model…he or she also becomes a consultant and coach. Preventative screening exams and tests take on a more important role, and increased time in the office is spent covering nutrition, exercise, immunizations, smoking cessation and alcohol moderation, to name just a few. Ultimately, health costs are decreased in this model, and the patient becomes less dependent on the medical profession and more autonomous with his or her own health…Richard R Samuel, MD Family Practice and Urgent Care Hayden, ID USA