In my first TEDx talk, The Shocking Truth About Your Health, I introduced the idea that optimal health requires not just a good diet, daily exercise, and plenty of sleep, but also healthy relationships, a healthy professional life, a healthy spiritual life, and so much more. But in 18 minutes, I didn’t have time to get into any detail about the scientific evidence proving that the Whole Health Cairn wellness model I introduced is essential to good health.
In my second TEDx talk, which I delivered on 11-11-12 in Santa Barbara, I dig deeper into the literature, sharing some mind-blowing data that previews my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine (which is now available for pre-order on Amazon! Woot!) You’ll have to watch it all the way through so you can see the surprise ending that still warms my heart.
As many of you know, I’m on a mission to heal health care, and if you’re one of the many who share my mission, you can help by spreading the word about this TEDx talk. If this talk resonates with you, please post a comment on YouTube about the talk, like it on YouTube, post it on Facebook, tweet it on Twitter. The more attention the talk gets, the more likely it is that TED.com will pick it up and promote it. And this is the first step to healing health care - raising consciousness.
Medicine is filled with good people doing the best they can to operate in a bad system. In my experience, most people in the health care industry are doing their jobs well. They just don’t realize that their job descriptions are just plain wrong.
In the U.S., we spend 2.7 trillion dollars per year on health care. Elsewhere, the average health care expenditure is $3,000 per person per year. In the U.S., it’s $8,000 per person per year. We spend more than $300 billion per year on pharmaceuticals, almost as much as the whole rest of the world combined. Yet our life expectancy is ranked at #50 in world. 49 countries are more successful at living long healthy lives than we are, and they do it at a lesser cost to boot.
Dartmouth University even did a study examining regional differences in how much it costs to care for a Medicare patient. They found that Medicare patients in Miami averaged a cost of $15,000 per patient per year, whereas Medicare patients in Minneapolis averaged about $7,000 per patient per year. The patients in Miami were getting significantly more medical care, and many more Medicare dollars were spent, yet the Miami patients did not have better outcomes and actually were more likely to die sooner than the Minneapolis patients.
20% of patients take up 80% of health care dollars, usually from chronic illness, repetitive hospitalization, and morbid obesity, yet this increased spending of health care dollars doesn’t improve the life expectancy of these patients.
With our health care system as broken as it is, it’s easy for patients - myself included - to fall into the role of victim and blame others when things don’t go our way. But are you doing what you can to optimize the kind of health care you’re getting? As both a physician and a patient, I’ve been on both sides of the exam table, and I’ve learned, from personal experience and from my patients, that the best way to get premium health care is to accept responsibility for your health, behave like a respectful but empowered patient, partner with your health care provider, and be brave enough to play devil’s advocate.
Unfortunately, the stereotype of doctor-as-God has permeated much of our culture, and when many patients get sick, they hand their bodies over to the doctor and wash their hands of the whole messy business of the human body. But let me tell you something. Nobody knows your body better than you.
In order to ensure that you’re doing what you can to advocate for the health of your body and those you love, let’s review the 10 mistakes that can cost you your life, so you can learn the tricks for getting the best health care possible.