As we transition into 2021, I’m reminded of all the things for which I’m grateful. As life speeds by, it’s easy to forget how many wonderful experiences I’ve had. I’m immensely grateful for the support I’ve received from my community, clients, colleagues and partners. It’s not always been all roses, but I’ve realized that even the more unpleasant experiences were leading me somewhere I didn’t understand at the time. The struggle to practice integrative and holistic medicine in a world designed for the more conventional model of medicine is difficult and at times, almost insurmountable. These experiences have shown me that it’s imperative to create an infrastructure that supports a more holistic approach to health in communities and throughout the country.
This takes a bold vision of making integrative medicine our primary point of contact. Currently family medicine or internal medicine doctors are considered primary care doctors, which sets up a system with a paradigm of waiting for disease to treat it. Moving integrative medicine to the role of primary care changes the paradigm to the prevention of disease rather than its early diagnosis and treatment. This shift in perspective is profound.
While the early diagnosis of disease is important, it’s not good enough. Why? Not only is having a disease unpleasant and potentially life threatening, it’s also very expensive. Latest estimates indicate that a chronic disease costs a patient $7,000 per year despite insurance, not including co-pays and deductibles. In other words, even with insurance, a patient will spend about $7,000 a year on each disease he or she has. As a nation we spend $1.1 Trillion annually in lost productivity due to chronic disease. That’s unsustainable no matter how you slice that pie. In fact, the U.S. spends 54% more on healthcare than any other country in the world and has the worst health of any developed nation in the world. We are easily the sickest richest country on the planet. If we take COVID as an example, we have more deaths from COVID in the U.S. than India, which has a population of over 1.4 billion people!
It’s clear we need a better plan than waiting for diseases to treat. What’s the solution? The solution is to use already-existing systems of medicine whose focus is prevention of disease. The collection of these already-existing systems of medicine is called integrative medicine. Does this strategy work? In 2014 the American Board of Physician Specialties formally accepted the field of integrative medicine as a medical specialty due to the overwhelming body of medical evidence that it does, in fact, work. Not only do medical studies show this, but commonsense dictates that it is so. Not only is it ethically more acceptable to assist people in maintaining their health rather than allowing them to get sick, but it’s also much more cost effective. The Milken Foundation released a report in 2007 called “An Unhealthy America” which stated that, based on research, we would pump $6 Trillion into our economy in just 40 years. The Milken Foundation released a follow-up report in 2014 called “Checkup Time” which indicated that we’d made little to no progress in prevention of disease in the U.S. While preventing disease sounds feasible, if the system you’re using to achieve this goal is not designed to prevent diseases, you won’t see progress and that’s exactly the result we’ve seen.
Only when we shift the paradigm to prevention of disease using integrative medicine as primary care will we begin to see progress. Why does integrative medicine work? This preventive system seeks the underlying root causes of symptoms and corrects them using natural, safe and science-based treatments before they become diseases. Integrative medicine teaches the foundational premises of health and wellness: proper nutrition, stress management, health- promoting lifestyle choices, appropriate testing and use of natural supplements. I’m grateful for the opportunity to provide this guidance to clients who are committed to being healthier. I’m grateful for the support that I receive every day and I’m happy to share with you my bold new vision for our nation’s wellness through the use of integrative holistic medicine. Never before has the need to look at how we practice medicine in this country been so dire. We simply cannot outspend disease. The cost of COVID alone has now exceeded $16 Trillion based on estimates. We must look for a better solution.
In my upcoming book, FAITH: Fearlessly Affirming and Intending to Transform Health, I explain why and how we got into this mess of poor health despite spending 54% more on healthcare than any other country in the world, and how we can wake up from this nightmare and begin to turn the tide for the better.
For a free download of the first three chapters of FAITH, CLICK HERE.
Pre-order your copy by April 22, 2021 and get 20% off! To Pre-Order CLICK HERE.
I hope you’ll join me in creating a bold new vision of wellness where true prevention of disease and wholeness are the goals. As a mother of two beautiful children, I endeavor to bring about a bold and visionary new healthcare paradigm that will guide them in maintaining optimal health and wholeness. We can and should do better while being a model for the rest of the world. Please share this newsletter with as many people as you can in order to increase public awareness of this much needed transformation of our healthcare model. May you and your family be well during this tumultuous time in our history.
Love, light and many blessings,
Mylaine Riobé, MD, FABOIM, FACOG
Director, Riobé Institute of Integrative Medicine