Approximately one-third of people who are overweight are currently diabetic. According to the Centers for Disease Control, managing weight has become so difficult that people who fall within normal-weight ranges are currently in the minority.
Yet in 2018 the diet industry in the U.S. grew by 4%—to $72 billion. This leads us to question why so many people are struggling to self-manage conditions, like obesity, that directly contribute to chronic illness.
What do we really want?
Most people know that self-managing conditions such as obesity requires lifestyle changes. However, when it comes to conditions like these, people often are in search of unattainable beauty, instead of life-changing wellness.
In addition, we are bombarded with dietary and exercise rules that can make self-management harder. This results in health care organizations spending more money for each preventable chronic condition, instead of reporting the results that prove the effectiveness of their program.
Why has wellness become unnatural?
Consider how dieting in the U.S. typically works. People rely on someone else—a diet expert or rigid food plan—to tell them how to eat. It’s gotten to the point where many people can’t figure out what it means to eat healthy.
While there is a place for nutritionists and food experts, sometimes patients take this advice in a way that binds them to rules, regulations and guilt. The end result is that wellness is no longer natural and self-management becomes a burden.
Why do patients sabotage their own wellness plans?
While patients may attempt to adhere to healthy regulations and behavior changes for wellness, their intentions are often thwarted by emotional choices such as comfort food or binge watching Netflix instead of exercising.
That being said, people aren’t necessarily weak or lacking in willpower. Often they inadvertently sabotage their own wellness because they’re focusing on the wrong goals.
We need more than food rules to develop healthy eating habits. To self-manage factors that contribute to chronic illness, we need solutions that will help people maintain healthy choices for the rest of their lives.
As clinicians help patients with issues such as obesity, health systems and clinics will increase their capacity to help more patients and their compensation. Here’s how they can do this.
How clinicians can help patients return to natural self-management
In past eras of history, tribes and clans described humanity using four terms: body, mind, spirit and heart. They believed that these aspects were so tightly intertwined that one facet could negatively or positively affect all the others.
Modern medicine is beginning to return to this focus. For instance, the connection between depression and diabetes (mind and body) is being noted as a comorbidity and treated concurrently.
But this isn’t always the case. When it comes to weight loss, diet plans have focused on the body while overlooking the other components that affect wellness. For example, a patient could be eating all healthy foods but be so stressed from work or a relationship that they’re in an unhealthy state. Or if a person is lonely, they may have trouble self-managing food choices due to emotional complications.
Notice that in both of these instances the problem wasn’t a lack of resolve or strength. The issue is that patient engagement and their wellness plans inadvertently neglected the emotional and mental aspects of healthy living.
For a person to be able to self-manage non complex conditions, they need whole-person care that empowers their whole being. To enable scalable health care, clinicians and health coaches need an approach that helps patients address and resolve barriers to wellness.
What this means for providers
Before moving forward in health care, we may need to look back. Today we place the emphasis on external change while overlooking the internal factors that often make behavior change hard.
By reversing a patient’s mindset with whole-person care, health providers and primary care clinics can better help patients. They can also gain important measurables to prove the value of the services they offer, leading to increased compensation from payers such as Medicaid.
As patients improve their non-complex conditions, clinicians face fewer expenses per patient. With more patients self-managing, clinics have a greater capacity to help more people while further expanding their revenue stream.
Supported self-management can increase your ROI. Learn more by downloading the “5 Steps to Supported Self-Management.”