In reading Prescription for a Healthy Nation by Tom Farley, M.D., Deborah A. Cohen M.D. this week, I pondered our health care system. It really does seem like we're looking at the wrong factors. With rising rates of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, we wonder how can we reduce the costs of medication, healthcare and fix health insurance in general, while our population is becoming more unhealthy with each passing minute. It's true, something needs to change.
I am in the business of health care. I care about health. I want to live a healthy lifestyle, unencumbered by disease or injury myself. I'd also like to see that for the rest of our society. But we live in a world where it seems that fitness and health are not priorities, rather, they are additional responsiblities on people's already too busy lifestyles. Which is why this book was actually quite interesting, discussing things like shelf space devoted to food products, pricing as related to people's consumption/purchasing tendencies, children walking to school now vs 20 years ago-- generally questioning our assumptions on what's broken with healthcare and society and how it could be changed. (Cutting healthcare costs and improving medicine vs changing lifestyles and cityscapes.)
It's not just the system that's broken, it's also the people who are using it. Just looking around, it's obvious that most people are not healthy, fit or at a comfortable weight. In my office alone, a non-scientific survey says more than 50% (and likely nearer 75%) would like to lose weight, but what are they doing about it? Most talk about it, but do not act on it.
The suggestion of this book is to work on changing society to create an environment which encourges healthy choices, whether it's by walking and biking, planting a garden, handing out free condoms, or installing safety bars so children don't fall off balconies. It is less about education (most education does not affect the rates of smoking, condom use, weight loss, and so on) and guilting people into improving behaviours than it is about making healhy choices accessible and easy.
Prescription for a Healthy Nation: A New Approach to Improving Our Lives by Fixing Our Everyday World
As a corollary, thoughts on nurses in health care reform:
Doctor and Patient