The Changing Medical World

We are living in extraordinary times.  Everything is changing, rapidly.  In the financial world for 60 years of the last century, the market forces were predictable.  One could apply formulas and figure out the value of a stock or bond.  Since the crash of 2008, the word most used to describe the financial world today is "the new norm" or new normal, which means no one knows what will happen next.


The medical world is in great turmoil and is experiencing the collision of two forces.  The first is the advent of EMR or EHR (Electronic Medical Records or Electronic Health Records).  If you've visited a conventional doctor lately, you've seen him struggling with a laptop or tablet to create an electronic set of notes documenting your visit.  The bigger picture is quite troubling.  IBM created a new computer called Watson which is AI (Artificial Intelligence) meaning to a degree it can learn and program itself.  Forty six percent of the federal budget is consumed by Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and associated programs.  Healthcare costs are exploding with no means of containing costs on the horizon. As you read this, Sloan-Kettering Oncology Center in New York City and some Blue Cross/Blue Shield offices are linked to Watson. The physician makes his diagnosis, then the patient's electronic medical records are emailed to Watson and the big computer determines the probability the physician's diagnosis is correct.  One can use a little imagination and see where this is headed.  A faceless computer deciding a patient's healthcare needs while very deliberately eliminating costs by declining treatments.

The second force is the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.  Aside from the marketplace, realities never before has the patient been intimately aware of the costs of a procedure or spent the time actually figuring out what their plan covers.  It used to be a physician might decide a patient needed a particular surgery, and the patient just said, "Oh, okay."  Now, there is an active dialogue about what it will cost and if it is covered.  When anyone is involved in the cost analysis, it promotes a good outcome because an awareness of the cost and an analysis of the value of the service are fundamental to any decision.

A recent survey determined that 65% of adults over the age of 50 would prefer to see a naturopathic physician as opposed to a conventional doctor.  These adults came to the understanding that pharmaceuticals have side effects and conventional physicians get too busy to actually listen to their patients, which impedes the healing process.  Younger adults are more likely to hold the same perspective, because they were raised with an awareness of the environment and the importance of lifestyle choices impacting well-being.  We believe the trend will be towards healthier living, better understanding of the forces in an individual's life that affects their health, and the realization that the patient must fully participate in the healing process.