Through the Eyes of a Practicing RN – Opinion Piece
Shortcomings of Western Medicine
In a perfect world a doctor’s visit would go something like this:
A patient calmly muses to their attentive doctor about their health concerns in a comfortable clinic setting, while allowing sufficient time to fully understand and address their symptoms. The patient leaves feeling empowered and heard, with a clear and workable plan to manage their health.
This unfortunately is not a reality for many patients. One of the main drivers in western medicine is what we call a billable visit. For those not in the medical world, a billable visit means that a patient’s visit will end in a diagnosis that insurance deems appropriate to compensate. In turn a patient’s health history will accrue a lengthy list of diagnoses dictated by a cumbersome medical charting system and a system that does not value nuance or individuality.
Sadly, preventative medicine just doesn’t pay.
Those of us who seek out alternative care or a doctor who specializes in alternative medicine will be forced to pay good money out of pocket. Spending thirty minutes with your patient to better understand the root causes of their issues isn’t cost effective. Shuffling patients around through brief visits that skirt pressing issues, while prescribing more medications & referring to specialists for more testing & diagnostics is what pays the bills. More patients with more billable visits equal more income. And while many providers would love to spend more time with their patients the truth is that they have too many patients loaded onto their schedule to make that a reality.
Insurance companies are the beasts of burden – dictating what gets paid for and what doesn’t -thereby determining if your care is worthwhile or not. Need that MRI to determine if your tendon is torn? Insurance dictates you’ll need an x-ray first. Need that special pain medication? Insurance dictates that you must have ‘failed’ numerous medications (typically months long process) before they’ll give the approval. The red tape is enough to make anyone’s head spin.
Insurance reimbursement programs are built on bad behavior. Tending to endlessly sick patients is an extremely profitable business – healthcare organizations, government institutions, and pharmaceutical companies are showing record level profits just as Americans have reversed a 25+ year trend of increasing lifespans. Americans’ lifespan just fell to 76-year-old for the first time since 1996. When humanity is sick profits soar. This is a matter of prioritizing what is most important. A system that offers free fast food and booze for taking medical treatment has taken a big step in the wrong direction.
What Can We Do?
So, what can we do to change the tide? I believe we must incentivize good behavior. Rather than leaning so heavily on disease management reimbursement we need a system that prioritizes and rewards personal responsibility. Maintaining a healthy weight has been shown to cut down on doctors’ visits for everyday nuisances like back pain & joint pain. Preemptive stress management lowers anxiety and depression leading to happy, healthier individuals and inevitably fewer emergency room and clinic visits. Healthy diet & regular exercise improve blood glucose and blood pressure control which in turn equals fewer chronic disease management visits. These are interventions whose benefits most know well. Let’s start rewarding them and stop encouraging bad behavior. Profit is not a bad thing, but when profit trumps the well-being of humanity it’s time to reconsider our priorities & our goals.
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Written by: Lorissa AgroRay, RN
Lorissa’s journey into the world of the Healing Arts began as a critical care Registered Nurse at a local hospital. While she can appreciate the values of traditional bedside care, she quickly realized that her healing gifts would best be utilized in a more holistic atmosphere. She has since layered her nursing training with Healing Touch, Holistic Nutrition & Herbalism certifications resulting in a unique fusion of healthcare modalities.
Lorissa works as a bridge between medical paradigms which allows her a modern-witchy perspective that unites & heals on so many levels. Her style of patient care centers on the human in front of her, rather than merely diagnoses. She assists individuals on their healing journey by reflecting & activating their own innate healing wisdom. These days you can find Lorissa working as a bilingual urgent care nurse, tending to her blossoming urban garden, and cuddling the most adorable rescued senior chihuahuas.
My mantra: “If you never start, you never get there.”
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