Why your hospital is your greatest health Ally – Guest Blog
22nd Sep 2022
“My second guest author in this blog series is Dr Paddy Barrett, an esteemed cardiologist known very well for his work towards the prevention of heart disease. He has published some fascinating takes on lifestyle medicine, and is world renowned in the specialty of preventive cardiology:”James, CEO, Blackrock Clinic
Why your hospital is your greatest health Ally
Dr Paddy Barrett
In the mid-1990s Microsoft asked its users of the word processing software, Word, whether they would like any additional features in the product. When they sifted through the thousands of replies they were very surprised to see what people wanted.
80% of the features that users requested were already in place. The users just didn’t know about them.
This is very much the same as what patients experience with hospitals and health insurance. Most of what you really need is already there. You just might need to find out more about it.
Optimise your health
Often, patients see their health insurance as coverage to undergo a specific test or procedure in a certain location. And while that is true, it vastly underutilizes the facilities that are available in most hospital systems and within most health insurance plans.
Being unaware of this is a major missed opportunity in optimising your health.
Yes, Microsoft Word users knew they could write essays and reports, but their lack of awareness of the additional features and services seriously held them back.
It’s time to see what those extra features of healthcare are and how to best utilize them.
Managing the risk factors
Health is the optimisation of living longer and living well. The key to these two components rests on preventing or managing the risk factors that lead to the chronic diseases that ultimately lead us to interface with a health system.
Most people are familiar with how these chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, dementia, arthritis etc. are managed in hospital settings. However, few people have a good understanding of how to use hospital systems to prevent them, or discover them early, so that the best treatments can be put in place as soon as possible.
The basis of prevention
The basis of prevention lies mainly in optimising sleep, stress, nutrition, and exercise. You need to view your hospital and health insurance as a tool to address any issues you might have in these domains to prevent the early onset of medical conditions.
If one of these areas is a challenge for you there are services available to help you address them. Sometimes what is needed is information from an expert, sometimes it is coaching. Even the best sports players have coaches. For the game of life, you will likely need them too.
You don’t have to have a medical condition to work with a nutritionist to get your diet right or to help with better eating habits and weight loss.
Regular exercise is linked to living longer but often people have injuries or aches that hold them back. Working with a physiotherapist can be the key to overcoming any obstacles to helping you move more freely in the world.
Sleep is a crucial domain of our health that influences almost everything else we do in our lives. Addressing poor sleep by working with a sleep coach or seeing a sleep physician can be the step that makes everything else in optimising your health so much easier.
Your cognitive wellbeing is the centrepiece of your life. The quality of your thoughts determines the quality of your life. Sometimes we just need assistance reframing how we think about the world to improve our cognitive well-being. Working with a psychologist can be a life-changing experience that will not only increase the length of your life but more importantly the quality of your life.
Your health allies
All these services and more are available in hospital settings. Most of these services are covered to some degree by your health insurance. Most people wait until they have a medical condition before interacting with the services mentioned above. The key is to work with them before a medical condition ever appears. Your hospital has a huge range of these experts. The key is to use them. They are your health allies.
Prevention is of course better than cure but cure is best achieved when the condition is found early. Early detection of conditions including heart disease and cancer are key to achieving the best outcomes when addressing them.
Always think about the services hospital systems can provide to best serve these needs. The suite of diagnostic tests that are available in hospitals is impressive. Use them to your advantage when appropriate. Are you eligible for a screening colonoscopy to assess for any early colorectal cancer? Are you at higher risk of skin cancer and need mole mapping or assessment of a worrying skin lesion? Is heart disease an issue in your family and is an early scan needed to think about reducing your risk of a heart attack?
All these services and more are available in your hospital network.
The question is whether you know about all of those that are available to you and how your hospital system can be your greatest health ally in achieving your health goals.