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What if our healthcare system kept us healthy?

All of us have relied on the health care system at least once in our lives, as none of us are immune to disease. At one point or another, you’ve suffered from some illness that required medical attention, or at least a prescription from your doctor.

Few weeks ago, I watched a Ted talk by Rebecca Onie, the founder of health leads, who connects patients to basic needs. Rebecca was talking about the topic “what if our healthcare system kept us healthy?” And there where it hit me. My point starts here. We all consider it absolutely normal to reach out to a medical professional in the instant that our health suffers. We have come to think of the healthcare system as a means specifically designed to cure people suffering from various medical conditions.

However, in the wise words of William Osler:

Treat patients, not diseases

What if our healthcare system could help keep us healthy? Help us prevent diseases instead of just curing them once they have already affected our lives. Disease does not just occur without an underlying cause. It is humans, with individual needs and problems that are victims of disease. It is these individual needs and problems that our healthcare system can help mitigate, and thus prevent disease from occurring.

We are all painfully aware that our diet choices, living conditions and lifestyle greatly affect our health. We are reminded of this each time we visit the doctor for a refill on our blood pressure medication, insulin and so forth. Yet, we have grown accustomed to believing that the responsibility falls entirely on us to make the adequate lifestyle choices, regardless of our social standing and monetary resources.

In many cases, disease is a consequence of poor diet, lack of food, poor hygiene, unhealthy behaviour (drugs, alcohol, and smoking) and sedentarism. However, even if we are aware of these factors, most of us do not have the means or knowledge needed to adequate deal with these ever present issues.

What if our healthcare system actively worked to help you fix these underlying factors? The possibility is there. Aside from prescribing medication, a doctor could prescribe foods for malnourished patients, exact exercise regimen for overweight patients and so on. These could then be discounted by the insurance company in the same way they do for medication.

Our healthcare could actively work to correct deficiencies in our dietary, physical fitness, emotional, social interaction and personal time needs that are the actual cause for disease.

Medical mentality has been steadily switching to prevention rather than exclusive treatment. Doctor’s try their hardest to educate patients about what lifestyle changes they should and need to undergo in order to live a long and healthy life. Everyone in the medical community is extremely aware of personal “circumstances” and it is a general consensus that there is nothing more they can do than to “advise”.

In cases where knowing what we must change is not enough, that is where our healthcare system can intervene. It has the possibility to help us fix the disparities in our lifestyle. Now, of course, the healthcare system should not have to sustain the burden of fixing our lives for us. Yet, it has the means to connect us to basic care and resources, such as food, transportation, child care, insurance and housing.

Our healthcare system can be redefined to prescribe solutions in order to manage health, not just improve illnesses.

Stay healthy and happy weekend,



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