Beyond alternatives – a sustainable, adaptable vision of healthcare

Gord Grant, Acupuncturist

by Gord Grant PhD, RAc

The time has come.  A turning point is happening in healthcare; although maybe not the one you think!  The future is not about life extension through technology and micromanaging diseases — at least not for the majority.  Emerging from a former focus on disease detection and symptom mitigation is a network of progressive health professionals who will help reframe the very idea of healthcare itself. They represent a paradigm shift by both average citizens and healthcare practitioners alike.  It can be seen in the evolving ways clients and healthcare professionals interact with each other.  We are moving away from the current dichotomy of making choices between mainstream medicine or “alternative” practices, and facing more toward a legitimate system of complementary choices that people are making for better health.

We live in a time defined by change.  Our modern wealth and scientific knowledge have enabled better and longer lives, and yet we are overwhelmed with more information than we can understand and use effectively!  Ironically, modern day afflictions are closely aligned with changes of lifestyle and diet that the new era has afforded.  Contemporary lives are now rooted in unhealthy choices that bring us to both insidious excesses and deficiencies.  Excesses of fat, sugar, salt, and emotional stress on the one hand, and deficiencies of whole foods, basic nutrients, sleep, exercise, and bodily awareness on the other! But despite living longer than ever on average, we don’t live any longer than the longest lived people did before the scientific revolution.  Sadly, many of us now will live out the last decades of our longer-than-average lifespan under intensive medical management for chronic and possibly preventable diseases.  We no longer die of “old age”; rather we see old age as a prolonged battle against a series of chronic pathologies. What is our future?

I believe healthcare will continue advancing and struggling with treating diseases using more advanced and improved technologies and medicines. Often successfully, these innovations may prolong and improve life by compensating for multiple and compounding chronic illnesses.  The big limitation with this strategy – it is immensely expensive and thus unsustainable.  Advances in technology are growing exponentially, when the proportion of taxes and human resources available to contribute to healthcare is certainly not.   Furthermore, even if we could afford them, these practices do not always improve the quality of life or address the fundamental elements of disease, health and well being.

The future is calling out for us to re-frame healthcare beyond alternatives – we must see past the dilemma of managing disease versus supporting a healthy life.

Indeed, our turning point has already begun! The role of the medical system is being redefined in context to the shifting agents of individual awareness, responsibility and informed choice. The way each person, family, and culture within our society understands, engages, and fosters health is the foundation of this change.

Healthcare will continue to embrace technological advancements in diagnostics and treatments. And yet we are discovering that sustainable and resilient health crucially depends on a more holistic approach encompassing disease prevention, health promotion, and supporting the unique solutions each needs to thrive.