I have just returned from a very enlightening couple of weeks in Hawaii where I had the honour and privelege of, not only exploring one of the most beautiful spots on the globe, but interacting with a large group of families and professionals who are truly ahead of the curve with respect to transforming the current ¨disease management¨ system of care into what is more accurately defined as HEALTHcare. This level of clarity and commitment was both surprising and refreshing...and signals a definite growing trend towards frameworks that are more patient-oriented and family centered.
With this in mind, I thought it would be informative to briefly outline the general framework from which the ¨Thrive and Flourish¨ theme is derived and how it fits into the overall landscape of healthcare.
Broadening Perspectives and Shifting Paradigms:
As is often mentioned in my posts, a consistent effort to gain proper perspective is always the most productive pursuit...therefore when it comes to healthcare in general, it is important to remember one key fundamental: building and nourishing the health assests that already exist contribute and facilitate any and ALL specific interventions that are implemented. To be precise, building upon existing repsiratory performance, digestive function, lymphatic drainage, fluid flow, and peripheral blood flow will yield much more ¨return on your investment¨. Using this economic analogy, it becomes very easy to see where this philosophy is grounded...and how vast the implications are.
If we consider the human organism as a multi-faceted and deeply complex ¨health economy¨, there is ultimately two main approaches that should be considered: deficit reduction and/or asset building.
A focused strategy on deficit reduction revolves around the concept of ¨what is broken and how can we fix it¨. This approach is obviously intuitive and it is also quite correct. In the global health economy, deficits (or withdrawls) contribute to a reduction in overall operational performance. This approach is the most widely implemented and widely-considered...and one of the main reasons is that it fits within a system that is primarily affirmed by quantitative measurement. For example, specific diagnoses are quantitatively distributed, pharmaceutical dosage, angular range of motion to establish ¨good¨from ¨bad¨, etc...
Investment into Health Assets:
Although this is commonly considered in the true economic sense, within the mindset of healthcare it is essentially left out of the equation. Health assets are effectively defined as the systems that are essential for the maintenance of human life...without which, nothing would be of any value at all. To compare it with the deficit reduction model, this approach would manifest as the ¨what is working and how can we make it work better¨ perspective. The difficulty behind this is that it is very difficult to measure! How do we establish better respiratory performance, more efficient digestive performance, increased lymphatic competence? These salutogenetic targets are what are effectivey qualitatively measured! There is no real need to establish a numeric value to them...rather to be able to identify that there is improvement.
Another familiar economic term is that of taxation. Within this analogy, it is important to understand that any type of intervention (whether physical, chemical, hormonal, etc...) has a certain systemic / biomechanical tax associated with it. To use the simplest example, if surgery is deemed as the most reliable intervention for a particular case, then the associated ¨tax¨ needs to enter in the equation...what are the risks involved in the surgery, how long is the rehabilitation time, what are the potential side-effects, etc..
Therefore within this mindset, we come to a fundamental question: what is the strategy to the development of a growing and thriving health economy? This is again an example of the counter-intuitive perspective of qualitative assessment:
-No matter how low or how little ¨assets¨ exist, it can always be developed and nourished.
The essential understanding should be that there are a number of factors that support health and a number of forces that are counter to health. Illness, disability, stress, fatigue, fear, frustration...all of these are just examples of elements that contribute to overall muscualr tension, impaired tissue regenration, interupted fluid flow, etc....while improved fluid flow, achievement, relaxation, etc are all examples of forces that create a fertile environment for the development and nourishment of health assets. What is the single characteristic that defines all of the salutogenetic factors? They are all QUALITATIVELY MEASURED.
This overall framework partly explains why massage therapy is indicated for almost every pathology, condition, injury, or diagnosis...it directly targets the salutogenetic factors and therefore facilitates incremental ¨deposits of heath assets¨ in to the global health economy.
In summary, as the economy of our time shows, solutions and perspectives as to how to improve it are vast, diverse, and sometimes conflicting. However, they all share a common thread in that the solution lies somewhere within a combination of strategic deficit reduction and asset building. This type of rationale thought surprisingly gets lost when imported into the healthcare industry. The very word ¨industry¨ suggests a self-perpetuating cycle of product to service specific diseases. The very humble and simply sophisticated suggestion of this post is to open the doors and broaden the perspective on the health economy to include those strategies that provide direct deposits into even the smallest account. As history has already shown over decades and centuries, consistent and incremental building of assets (no matter how small) help to service the long-term and sustainable economic health.