Technology, public input, and the rising costs of healthcare have all had an impact on changes within the industry over the last few years. It’s not too surprising that we’re seeing huge shifts in the way we view medicine—but what is surprising is the direction the industry is headed.
Holistic health, which has long been considered outside the mainstream of modern Western healthcare, is starting to be embraced within the industry. These days, people understand how mental and physical health are connected and are starting to become worried about interventions like prescription painkillers and the overuse of antibiotics. Holistic health is emerging as a priority for a number of reasons, including a focus on preventative therapies, lower costs, and an emphasis on wellness. Here are some of the major ways healthcare is changing and embracing these holistic principles.
The Changing Face of Medicine
Getting an appointment with a doctor isn’t easy. It can take months to schedule a routine visit and in many cases, the office is running behind and patients are left waiting. The shortage of primary care doctors is leading many patients to simply seek out urgent care services instead. This arrangement isn’t much better for doctors than it is for patients—primary care doctors are overworked and underpaid as compared to their colleagues in other specialties. Large mergers have further squeezed small practices’ revenues.
In answer to these changes and new patient expectations, more urgent care centers are opening up. These walk-in clinics are not for true emergencies, but for problems that can typically be handled by nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants. What’s not clear yet is what these changes will mean for doctors—or patient care overall. One thing is for sure, though: the traditional model of primary care no longer works for most patients’ lifestyles and they want to play a more active role in their own care.
Why Holistic Health Is Needed
Holistic health is simply a way of looking at a person’s health from all angles. It includes physical, mental, spiritual, environmental, intellectual, social, and emotional health, and emphasizes wellness and prevention, rather than isolated interventions. In the past, healthcare reimbursement was based on services provided—a model that didn’t give doctors the incentive to emphasize proactive and preventative measures.
Today, the industry is shifting toward outcome-based reimbursement, which is much better for patients and promotes wellness over invasive treatment. It also helps to engage patients in their own health, which ultimately gives them more value and control over their own wellness while promoting good long-term health. This new focus on holistic health signals a shift toward patient-focused care that the United States desperately needs.
The Doctor is in – Another Country with eHealth
Technology has made a lot of new healthcare options possible, including eHealth. Electronic health records, telehealth (including video chat appointments) and remote patient monitoring are all helping to cut costs, provide better care, and help patients stay out of the clinic or hospital.
One of the most significant advances to come out of the eHealth revolution is the ability to consult with doctors all over the world. This is especially important for patients who need specialist care, including people with rare diseases. eHealth also allows doctors to help patients in other countries that may not have a robust or high-quality healthcare infrastructure.
The Holistic Way – Some Skepticism Remains
Of course, not everyone has fully embraced the holistic healthcare trend. Some are skeptical that this shift will improve care for all. Although holistic healthcare has the potential to reduce healthcare costs, many of the people who are embracing alternative therapies and natural medicine are the wealthiest Americans, which could drive up prices in the sector as a whole. There’s also a lack of research on some of the most popular holistic healthcare practices, causing suspicion within the medical community and among patients. As holistic healthcare grows, the industry will need to grapple with this skepticism and obstacles to widespread use.
Eastern Medicine Playing a Bigger Role in Western Healthcare
Within holistic medicine, ancient practices of Eastern medicine are some of the most tried-and-true natural therapies. It’s the perfect time for people who are interested in getting into this growing field to get the education they need to build a career around wellness. Massage therapy/Asian bodywork, yoga, and acupuncture are all practices that can be incorporated into a holistic healthcare plan and offer practitioners a satisfying career.
With all the changes in the healthcare industry, it’s never been a better time to jump in and help people manage their busy modern lifestyles. With that said, it’s important to get the right training—and get into the field for the right reasons.
Photo by Jared Rice at unsplash
Guest Author Bio
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.