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The answer to rising healthcare costs

It’s well documented that 70 to 80% of our healthcare dollars are spent on chronic disease.

The medical treatment for chronic disease you can say is treatment by numbers. If your blood pressure is up, we have to lower that number. If you cholesterol is up, we have to lower that number. Diabetes is also treating numbers. People are not numbers or a disease! Raising or lowering numbers on a lab report does not treat the cause of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes etc.

To lower healthcare costs we must be able to predict, prevent, and to find the root cause of disease.

If you’ve been reading my emails you know that the Cleveland Clinic has a division of Functional Medicine. They are working with insurance companies to hopefully cover functional medicine. The numbers are coming in. These are good numbers. Insurance companies are starting to see that correcting the underlying cause of disease saves money. When you find the root cause of an illness and correct it you drastically reduce healthcare costs. Continual follow-up visits, medication and emergency procedures for when the numbers (symptoms) get out of control.

It’s predicted that type II diabetes can bankrupt the healthcare system. If a person is compliant, type II diabetes can be reversed in one month. I also don’t understand the wait-and-see follow-up visits for an impending illness.  For example an enlarged thyroid. It’s often a wait-and-see if you will need a replacement hormone or if cancer develops. Why wait-and-see, why not find out why there is an enlarged thyroid. We have the science to do this. In functional medicine we do it all the time. In this particular case no medication for the rest of your life or surgery.

In Seattle Washington, Leroy Hood, PhD is the president of The Institute for Systems Biology. He talks about what he calls P4 medicine. Predictive, preventive, personal, and participatory. Dr. Hood argues that instead of continuous management of health, making full use of the whole genome sequencing and biomarkers to correct disease before it gains a foothold. Dr. Hood just completed a nine-month pilot study which is named the 100 Persons Wellness Project. The results were just released in a peer-reviewed journal. I had the opportunity to sit in on, via the Internet, a grand rounds presentation at the Cleveland Clinic regarding the study this past Tuesday. The information from this study was so impressive that funding is now available for a study with 100,000 persons. The focus of these studies is to predict and prevent illness. The method is to sequence the entire genome of each participant and at entered regular intervals monitor biomarkers and wearable devices like a fit bit. All this information is entered into a computer with a program that can find associations between the biomarkers and the genome while looking at the participants’ health concerns over time. The analysis that was presented is by no means ready to be used for patient care. However, the possibilities of predicting and preventing illness in the future is mind blowing. A biomarker is a medical assessment such as a laboratory test of the blood and urine and many other factors it’s beyond the scope of this article.

Predict illness, Prevent illness, Personal, for not the mass but for each person, and Participatory- you must be involved.

There is great hope healthcare. It’s nice to hear some good news isn’t it.

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