Tuesday, March 17, 2009

IMF - changing the medicine we do

I am HUGE fan of The Institute Of Functional Medicine.

IMF is working hard towards changing the medicine traditional doctors do, read below what Mark Hyman, MD, Vice-Chairman, Board of Directors and David S. Jones, MD, President, IFM have to say.

"Changing the Medicine We Do"
Last month in Washington, DC, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences held the Summit on Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public. Six hundred key leaders and stakeholders in health care attended, including educators, community leaders, practitioners, lawmakers, policymakers, insurance leaders, scientists, representatives from the healthcare industry, and healthcare consumers. It was a broad coalition that came together with a common voice and intent to change not only the WAY we do medicine, but also the medicine we DO.

While the meeting was a summit on integrative medicine, the conversation at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) also emphasized the importance of a truly integrated healthcare system throughout the continuum of care, through birth, old age, sickness and death. There was a clear message that health care in the United States is actually NOT a system and lacks any true integration. As the three day conference progressed, the serious brokenness of American health care emerged, as well as the theme that a fundamentally different framework for medical care must guide healthcare reform. This need was framed by Dr. Snyderman, Chancellor Emeritus, Duke University School of Medicine, as an integrated healthcare system that must be prospective in viewpoint - participatory, preventive, predictive and personalized. The clinical model Dr. Snyderman proposed has much the same architecture as that already developed and taught by the Institute for Functional Medicine.

During the three days, Dr. Wayne Jonas presented his model for a national wellness initiative (WIN) that provides a framework for creating a culture of health and wellness through public and private efforts across diverse sectors of our society. The dialogue included perspectives on different models for integrating our healthcare system as well as the science establishing both the needs and efficacy of a prospective, integrated systems-medicine approach. This dialogue included panel discussion about the workforce, education requirements, and economic requirements inherent in the move toward a more comprehensive model upon which to base the coming healthcare reforms.

During the same week of the IOM Summit meeting, Senator Kennedy's Senate working group on healthcare reform held hearings on integrative and functional medicine. Dr. Memhet Oz called for mobilizing a national health service corps (HealthCorps) to educate the student body (K through 12) through health coaches trained by HealthCorps, similar to the intensive training provided Peace Corps volunteers prior to their deployment. Dr. Dean Ornishdiscussed the evidence that lifestyle approaches to heart disease and prostate cancer have been proven to be more effective and cost effective than medication or surgery. Dr. Andrew Weil emphasized the importance of transforming medical education to train a new generation of practitioners in integrative medicine. Dr. Mark Hyman echoed the previous speakers and focused on the importance of the Functional Medicine architecture of healthcare delivery that IS participatory, preventive, predictive and personalized. Panelists were asked insightful questions and had the opportunity to meet afterward with Senators Tom Harkin and Barbara Mikulski along with their key healthcare advisors.

There was no lack of will or understanding of the issues; in fact it was quite obvious that the senators and their aides consider themselves as allies in moving the healthcare reform agenda forward. There is, however, a lack of clarity around key strategies of how to implement changes with policy levers that currently exist. The course ahead has many pitfalls and traps. Clinicians practicing Functional Medicine work in the context of health care with people suffering real problems; we see reproducible and predictable solutions that are being overlooked. These solutions hold a key to navigating our healthcare non-system through this present stormy sea of transition.

From President Obama's call for prevention could emerge little more than the implementation of the Clinical Preventive Services Task Force Guidelines, which, while important, are not true prevention but early detection. Addressing healthcare reform without addressing the systems issues across all sectors of society affecting the health of our nation and healthcare costs may simply be rearranging the deck chairs on our Titanic healthcare non-system's eminent disaster. For example, intellectual property laws push private industry to develop products and services that profit from sickness (e.g. treatments for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.) rather than promote a more fundamental change in the vectors of these diseases leading to healing, health and wellness. Education policies support healthcare training schools that produce graduates with a focus on the assessment and treatment of diseases rather than as leaders in personal health transformation. When so many school kitchens have only deep fat fryers and microwave ovens, how can we feed our children for the efforts necessary to learning and thriving? Government agencies and departments with domains that impact health such as Agriculture, HHS, Education, DOD, CMS, etc. are not at this time coordinated to create a culture of health and wellness.

The personalized, systems-medicine approach of Functional Medicine is a scalable model for medical practice, education and research that can dramatically improve outcomes and reduce costs while providing real solutions to our healthcare crisis. We feel that solutions are created through incentives to implement this Functional Medicine approach, and deliver it through integrated healthcare teams, including health educators/coaches.

A core team of attendees from the IFM staff and faculty continue to dialogue with participants and contacts from the IOM Summit, the Senate hearings on healthcare reform, and White House staff. We hope that you will join us by linking to the internet sites that have video reports and submitted documents of these meetings as well as join us at the regional Summit meetings planned for dialogue with the American people. IFM is also in the process of establishing a news feed for information related to healthcare reform to follow up on the exciting developments in Washington. In the interim, you can sign up below to receive news flashes from our office on this subject. We know so many of you out there are working together toward the same goals.

- thank you! We'll keep you posted.
Mark Hyman, MD, Vice-Chairman, Board of Directors of IFM
David S. Jones, MD, President, IFM

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