You don’t have to live in South Central L.A. for living and working conditions to be negatively contributing to illness or disease. There are a greater number of environmental and metabolic disorders affecting health and quality of life. Public health issues continue to rise at alarming rates.
The ‘upstream’ healthcare team addresses where health begins. Addressing the cause of illness and the context of a patient’s life can have a tremendous impact. 60% of preventable death is associated with living and working conditions, so healthcare professionals must take a vested interest in a patient’s history. This includes not just your current situation, but your lifespan – the human body has an immense capacity to compensate, but also has a threshold before it begins to ‘fail’. Knowing all of the barriers to health or healing is vital.
‘Upstreamists’ transform the process in which they relate to their patients – they identify a problem, perform a root problem analysis (living and working conditions), and mobilize resources to create a solution.
In any primary care environment, there is some semblance of this taking place, but healthcare typically focuses on reactive management. Also, health profession education rarely provides an adequate depth of training in community health, nutrition, and exercise and such an adjunct group of professions dedicated to these issues has skyrocketed. Problem is that we further compartmentalize health. And in today’s busy society, individuals are challenged in finding the time to find the right resources.
Insurance benefits also provide limited coverage for proactive consultations and education re: preventative medicine. So shouldn’t we be calling it ‘sickness insurance’?
So what are the options for providers? Teamwork, collaboration, curiosity, re-define healthcare, transform your practice.
And for patients, seek ‘upstreamists’ as leaders of your health care team and transform your life.