Evolving Practices in Healthcare: A Total Wellness Approach
Patient care management in the US healthcare industry is gradually moving towards a total wellness approach. What does this mean? This goes beyond the diagnosis of a patient’s health issue and prescribing of medicines and medical procedures for curative purposes. Wellness is broadly defined as proactively achieving and sustaining life-long good health. Wellness is a positive approach to living – an approach that emphasizes the whole person. It is the integration of the body, mind, and spirit; and the appreciation that everything that the patients do, think, feel, and believe has an impact on the patient’s state of health. The approach is a shift from a reactive treatment to preventive treatment, i.e., “customized” to a patient’s unique needs. This further means that a generalized diagnosis (view) of a patient’s disease would now include treatment offerings that may be unique to the patient for a more precise cure of the disease.
An example would be a dialysis patient. The usual health data would be required from the patient through laboratory tests. Analysis of the laboratory results showed high levels of creatinine and uric acid and that the patient has diabetes. The clinician or attending physician other than requiring dialysis treatments also recommended a change in the nutritional lifestyle of the patient and positive meditation through yoga to lower the creatinine levels. Using a wellness approach to treatment, the physician is aware that stress and lack of sleep are some of the contributors to elevated levels of creatinine. The impacts of a wellness approach to disease treatment documented positive and long-term results. The approach is a tamer version of how Dr. Gregory House, of the acclaimed US television series House, solves health mysteries with the aim of precisely diagnosing a disease and its cure or treatment. It calls for an integrative delivery of services, meaning collaboration with other service providers like social services for the emotional and social well-being of the patient. Also, by adopting a wellness approach the patient’s family becomes an active participant in the lifestyle changes the treatment would require. If the disease is genetic, imagine then the impact of health benefits of changes in lifestyle and nutrition affects. The outcomes will be multi-level.
This will put more responsibility on managers in the healthcare industry, as they will not only be managing their own individual organizations, but also be on the lookout for strategic alliances, joint ventures, and following a community-based approach. These changes and added responsibilities would then require leaders in the healthcare organizations to adopt lifelong learning and continued education to be updated in their area of expertise and continue to be relevant in the industry.
This is a first of a series of articles discussing new models and trends in healthcare, challenges the healthcare industry faces with the demands for more quality patient treatment and care, technologies, and practices to adopt in this evolving industry, government policies that affect these new models and trends, impacts of change these models or trends contribute and capability-building steps to adopt and improve the quality of service in healthcare.
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Hot Topic Question: Do you think that doctors are embracing a total wellness approach model at the same rate? How can a TWA approach affect a hospital’s bottom line, particularly when most profits have been made in the past by providing ongoing treatment to a patient’s condition? Comment below