In the past, when a woman went to a doctor, she would likely leave with a prescription for pills or a referral to a surgeon. Today, she might instead receive a prescription for nutrition, exercise, massage, acupuncture, or meditation training.
Healthcare is rapidly changing in the United States. People are now expected to take more responsibility for their own health. People who practice a healthy lifestyle and get preventive services are rewarded with lower insurance premiums. According to the United States Department of Labor, women make approximately 80 percent of healthcare decisions for their families and are more likely to be the caregivers when a family member falls ill. Women visit doctors and seek more preventive healthcare than men. Women use more alternative or complementary medicine than men.
Integrative medicine offers a new prescription for health that responds to women’s needs today. According to the Bravewell Collaborative:
Integrative medicine is an approach to care that puts the patient at the center and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental influences that affect a person’s health. Employing a personalized strategy that considers the patient’s unique conditions, needs, and circumstances, integrative medicine uses the most appropriate interventions from an array of scientific disciplines to heal illness and disease and help people regain and maintain optimal health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease and cancer are responsible for almost 45 percent of all deaths among women. Poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress, and smoking are risk factors for both heart disease and cancer. The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society recommend integrative strategies such as a plant-based whole food diet, regular physical activity, stress reduction, and tobacco avoidance to prevent disease.
A growing body of scientific evidence supports using integrative therapies such as an anti-inflammatory diet, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, massage, or acupuncture. These therapies can accelerate healing, reverse disease, reduce stress, and mitigate chronic pain without the risk of drug addiction or invasive procedures.
KentuckyOne Health currently offers The Lifestyle Medicine Program at its Healthy Lifestyle Centers. It is an individualized plan that includes nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction. The Lifestyle Medicine Program is indicated for almost all chronic diseases, with the strongest scientific evidence showing benefit for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Later in 2015, KentuckyOne Health will offer the Ornish Program, which has been proven to reverse heart disease. Medicare and some private insurance pay for the Ornish Program for persons with heart disease.
The Healthy Lifestyle Centers also offer meditation, yoga, Tai Chi classes, and massage and acupuncture. These therapies are particularly helpful for people struggling with chronic pain and stress.
Patients should check with their health insurance company to verify coverage for integrative, preventive, and wellness services.
Although many more people are now covered by health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act, they may have higher deductibles. If they have a high deductible health plan, they can set up a Health Savings Account (HSA). HSA dollars can be used for lifestyle medicine programs and integrative services if a physician prescribes them. Patients can learn how to set up a HSA through their employer or from the Internal Revenue Service at http://www.irs.gov/publications/p969/index.html.
Women have more choices than ever before to help them live long, healthy, happy lives. If your patients want help with living a healthier lifestyle, give them a lifestyle medicine prescription or call the KentuckyOne Health Healthy Lifestyle Centers at (502) 581-0110 or visit www.kentuckyonehealth.org/healthylifestyle.
A GROWING BODY OF SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE SUPPORTS USING INTEGRATIVE THERAPIES SUCH AS AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET, MEDITATION, YOGA, TAI CHI, MASSAGE, OR ACUPUNCTURE.
Deborah Ann Ballard, MD, MPH, is a an internal medicine specialist with KentuckyOne Health Primary Care Associates and is certified by the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine.
Deborah Ballard, MD, MPH KentuckyOne Health Integrated Medicine 250 E. Liberty Street, Suite 102 Louisville, KY 40202 To schedule an appointment, call 502.581.0110