A largely overlooked area of modern medicine is preventative medicine. In medical schools and rehabilitation fields, we are trained to fix problems, a skill which is hard to apply if the problem is still in the future. However, that is not the way that medicine used to be. Historically, the town doctor took time to know their patients and understand their lifestyle, which was possible because they interacted with their patients more frequently, both personally and professionally, than doctors do today. And while (or, perhaps, because) we see the doctor less than ever before, the collective health of the U.S. population is consistently poor. In fact, every year since 2004, the U.S. has come in last place in terms of life expectancy among the top 11 industrialized countries in the world.
Preventative medicine often results in better personal and financial health for patients. For example, as detailed in the Scientific American article linked above, an otherwise healthy man was repeatedly admitted to the hospital for breathing problems during a scorching Texas summer, spending $60,000 on repeated hospital stays and medical exams. When someone finally stepped back to question why a relatively healthy individual suddenly developed poor lung health and sent a team member to visit the man’s home, they discovered that he lived without an air conditioner, which was damaging his lungs. The fix for this simple problem costed $400.
Preventative medicine could also help relieve the health and economic challenges that people with obesity-related illnesses face. Routine check-ups with a doctor could catch heart disease or cancer before they become life-threatening. Regular dental cleanings can even be considered preventative medicine! Stopping diseases before they start is the best outcome for patients, and should be the goal of modern medicine.