Back in the 1980’s when I was working in cardiac rehabilitation, we had a rift with an “old school” doctor over the patient education we provided as part of the curriculum in cardiac rehab. I recall him saying, “I’ll refer patients to you for exercise, but I DO NOT want them to receive the education component of your program.” He further stated, “If I want them to know anything about diet or lifestyle, I will be the one to decide what and when to tell them.” WOW! Have we ever come a long way!
Enter the age of artificial intelligence (aka “AI”). Ready or not, we will be moving ahead with it. Some people are excited, and some have extreme trepidation. I have a friend in the field who created AI that could manage hedge funds. He employed it and his AI outperformed the best human hedge fund managers. Interestingly, rather than create a hedge fund, he opted to collaborate with human hedge fund managers to enhance their fund management capabilities.
To date, AI has taken and passed medical board exams as well as bar exams. With the purported shortage of front-line medical personnel, AI could certainly fill that need and allow for greater leverage of human providers in a “one to many” fashion. The mantra I’ve have adopted is to “systematize the routine (predictable) and humanize the exceptional (unpredictable).”
I had blood labs drawn at a recent visit to my primary care provider and was surprised to get a text message an hour later notifying me that my lab results were ready and available in the portal which was accessible through my phone. The next day I received a call from a clinic nurse reviewing the results with me and providing suggestions from the doctor in dealing with the results that were marginal. Clearly, the present state of healthcare does not subscribe to the same autocratic, parental style of the doctor mentioned above.
My labs revealed that my total cholesterol is high as it has been for at least 15 years now. Because of my background, I understand that total cholesterol has a correlation with increased heart disease risk which is a relatively weak correlation and certainly not causal. With no heart disease in my family, and a host of other indicators suggesting minimal heart disease risk, I am not and will not submit to statin therapy in the absence of far more persuasive data and my doctors have been agreeable to date.
But I would still like to know more about the exact level of and nature of my risk. My doctor suggested a “coronary calcium scan” which I will do, but that is still not giving me the information I want because calcification shows up late in the atherosclerotic process and its absence does give me the level of “all clear” that I want. Especially considering I would like another 6-7 decades of functional life. So, I have to look at something “more upstream.” Thus, I will also add an apolipoprotein particle test to see how my LDL cholesterol breaks down. Do I have those “small, dense particles” that do the damage or not. Additionally, I am looking at more sophisticated full-body scans.
That is a lot to know, especially if you are not a professional in a health field. I find that people have the motivation to learn about their health when it is threatened. A phrase from a 1968 article published in German has endured. It is “A healthy person has a thousand wishes; a sick person has but one!” Likewise, William Bennett said in the 1980’s “the way to be healthy in America is to get a chronic illness and manage it.”
My hope is that you don’t wait until you lose your health to find the motivation to be healthy. The tools and opportunities are here! I have a CPA who does my taxes. Her job is to make sure I don’t break any laws. It is not her job to make sure I take advantage of every tax break available to me. I have a “tax strategist” for that. Similarly, it is my doctor’s responsibility to make sure that I am not sick. It is not his job to make me healthier. I need a different kind of professional for that. For me it is ME and my network of collaborators who are constantly seeking ways to help people reach higher levels of health. We provide avenues to testing and treatments and teaching via consultative advice, but it is you who must take charge of your own health. You have more tools at your disposal than at any other time in history and there are even more coming.
Michael Buyze, L.Ac. is a healthcare entrepreneur and visionary who has over 40 years of healthcare experience with expertise in acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, functional medicine, clinical exercise physiology, and nutrition. He owns and operates East Wind Healthcare, an acupuncture and wellness clinic with a 24-year history of helping people in the Fox Valley with offices in Appleton, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac. He holds Master of Science Degrees in Chinese Medicine, Business Administration and Exercise Physiology. He and his team offer acupuncture as well as wellness programming for acute and chronic pain, fertility, autoimmune and many other chronic disease states. Acupuncture consultations and wellness consultations are available by appointment. Contact information: East Wind Healthcare, 3000 N Ballard Road, Unit#3, Appleton, WI 54911; 404 N. Main St., Suite 201, Oshkosh, WI 54901 and 180 Knights Way, Fond du Lac WI 54935 (inside Forum Health); Tel:920-997-0511; Website: eastwindhealthcare.com