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Self-empowerment is coming!

Posted Oct 01 2008 8:26pm

I've discussed this before: The coming wave of self-empowerment in health. Health that is driven by you, not a hospital, not a doctor, not by procedures, but by information and access to tools that are powerful and effective.

The seeds are being planted right now and won't take full root for many years or decades. But it's going to happen.

I previously cited several broad trends that are examples of this emerging wave:

--The nutritional supplement movement. Contrary to the media's ill-informed bashing, nutritional supplements are getting better: improved quality, better substantiation of when/how to use them, new agents that appear rapidly, since introduction is not slowed by the molasses of the FDA.

--Medications moving to over-the-counter status. Health insurers are driving this one. OTC means not paid for by insurance. That also means access to you.

--What I call "retail imaging", i.e. screening ultrasound, heart scans, full body scans, etc. that are available in most states without a doctor's order.

--The Internet. The mind-boggling rapidity and depth of information available on the Internet today is fueling the self-empowerment movement by providing sophisticated information to health care consumers. Information here is uneven at present. But, as consumer sophistication increases and the system of checks and balances evolves, internet-driven information will be often superior to what you get from a doctor or other health professional.

--High-deductible health insurance plans. If health care consumers bear more and more of the costs of health care, they will seize greater responsibility for early identification and prevention and minimize long-term costs.

This trend does not mean treating your own infection, taking out your own gall bladder, repairing your own broken leg. It means that conventional routes of health delivery will recede into providing only catastrophic care.

It means that you and your family will take a larger role in learning how to eat and exercise properly, use foods to maintain and promote health (the "designer food" and "nutraceutical" movement), take supplements that have real benefits, use medications for treatment of many everyday ailments.

It also means seizing control of diseases that previously were only treated in hospitals, like coronary heart disease. This, of course, is where our program, Track Your Plaque, is an example of how you can have a powerful and effective role in your heart health. Track Your Plaque goes so far beyond the "eat low-fat, exercise, and know your numbers" media mantra that it's like comparing a brand-new Mercedes to a rusted, run-down '87 Ford Escort. There truly is no comparison. (Sorry if you're an Escort driver!) But you get the idea.

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