Kyle Smart, DO, ABFM, Cucamonga Valley Medical Group
By Kyle Smart, DO, ABFM
I tell students all of the time that there is a difference between being a good health care provider and being good at delivering healthcare in America in 2022.
Being an excellent healthcare provider encompasses a compassionate bedside manner, a solid foundation of medical knowledge and experience in helping patients manage their health care needs.
Being excellent at delivering that healthcare requires a different set of skills.
Such skills include the ability to help patients tangibly access their healthcare, medications, labs, X-rays, emergency care, long-term care, physical exams and vaccinations. This encompasses navigating a convoluted system – one that quite honestly is filled with red tape and bureaucracy. By the way, at CVMG we want to be great at both!
What does this have to do with preventative health?
Before we get to that, lets discuss what preventative health is.
Preventative health is simply being proactive to work to prevent any healthcare issue, rather than wait for it to happen and then treat it. Who wouldn’t want to maximize their quantity and quality of life? Who doesn’t want to live the best version of themselves?
Of course, we all want those things!
However, many of us compromise some or even all these every day. Disagree? Let me ask a few disarming questions:
• Did you eat fast food yesterday or make healthier choices?
• Are you exercising for 30 to 60 minutes five days per week?
• Do you keep losing the same 5 to 20 pounds over and over again?
• Did you get your flu shot last season?
• Do you take your prescribed medication as directed or more like when you remember?
• When was your last physical exam with lab work?
• Are you putting off your colon cancer screening?
• Have you reached out to your health care provider about the stress, depression, or anxiety that you cannot seem to shake?
• Do you want to drink less alcohol or stop altogether?
• Do you finally want to kick that smoking habit?
I agree that some preventative health is easy, while other preventative measures — not so much. If we all agree that preventative health is optimal, then why can it be so challenging to realize that level of healthcare?
Below are a couple of barriers to preventative health and how we at CVMG can partner with you to achieve this level of health care.
I intentionally put the word “work” into my definition of preventative healthcare above. Preventative health requires emotional, mental, and physical energy, often requiring self-discipline and also behavior change! And changing our behaviors long term and for the better is one of the hardest things to do.
At CVMG, our staff and providers can help motivate you to proactively engage your health more, but this is a partnership, and we need your help. In other words, you have to want it, at least a little bit. You have to buy-in and understand your preventative health care plan.
Another barrier is our healthcare system. Remember that red tape and bureaucracy I talked about earlier? Yeah, we need to follow the money.
I work with so many patients who feel helpless about their healthcare and healthcare benefits. I remind them that they are in control. Most of us have some say in and control of which insurance company gets our monthly premium (money) and that gives you, the patient, leverage to understand and direct your healthcare more proactively.
Money from that premium is used to pay for your healthcare when needed. Paid to your doctors, pharmacies, labs, X-ray facilities, hospitals, and the like, when you have a medical need or issue. The healthcare system in the United States is designed to disburse payments based on treatment, rather than prevention.
Insurance companies issue payment when there is something wrong with you, such as a trip to the urgent care for a cough and congestion; a trip to the emergency room for a fender bender; an evaluation by your primary provider for low back pain, diabetes, or hypertension.
That’s right, the health care institution is inherently designed to treat diseases, rather than prevent them. The good news is, this is starting to change! Healthcare administrators are starting to realize that an ounce of prevention is literally worth a pound of cure.
Healthcare providers (those who directly work with patients) and healthcare administrators (those who manage the delivery of healthcare), more than ever, are working together to:
• Raise awareness of preventative health in general.
• Follow evidenced-based guidelines for physical exams based on age and gender.
• Follow evidenced based guidelines for cancer screening such as colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and reproductive organ cancers.
• Prevention of diabetes mellitus type two.
• Prevention of cardiovascular disease.
• Weight loss management.
• Smoking cessation treatment and classes.
• Follow evidenced based guidelines for vaccine recommendations.
• Raise awareness of mental health and treatment options.
At CVMG we want to do more than manage your medical diagnoses and issues. We value your preventative healthcare. If you have any questions about your preventative health after reading this article, please schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss your options and solutions to engage in proactive prevention!