The Importance of Preventative Medicine
In today’s day and age, the medical system focuses on treatments of illnesses, ailments, and diseases. Preventive care and medicine is by no means the standard or even widely practiced. Instead of being proactive, we are highly reactionary. This mode of medicine is so deeply ingrained in our society. It is normal to go to the doctor when you are sick and to seek medical advice when you are ill. However, it is far less normal to be attentive to disease prevention and taking care of yourself routinely to ensure further wellness.
A common form of preventative medicine that many people are familiar with is immunizations and vaccinations. However, even these are difficult to implement entirely in a large population, and undoubtedly, people fall through the cracks. Those who fall through the cracks are often those who are unable to access health insurance, are from a lower economic class, or do not have an education. These groups are more vulnerable when it comes to falling ill, and struggle to access the healthcare system we have in place.
Vaccinations are just a small part of what an effective and inclusive model of preventative care looks like. Preventable diseases, like Polio, can be and have been eliminated and diminished through the proper medical practice. In addition to, of course, sparing someone of a disease, vaccinations can also prevent economic burden and debt by omitting the need to pay for reactive care, which is often much more expensive than proactive care.
This especially applies to diseases like breast cancer. The average cost of a mammogram without insurance is between $75 and $250. The average treatment of breast cancer, stage II, is around $60,000, and stage IV, is around $130,000. By getting routine mammograms and other screenings, you are putting yourself in a position to lead a healthier life and catch medical issues much earlier than you would without any preventative medicine.
Flipping the model of healthcare from reactive to proactive is a challenging task. However, there are steps that each medical professional can take to work toward this overall goal. For a start, we as physicians can emphasize the importance of routine checkups and screenings, especially for diseases and ailments that have genetic origins. We can also all work to make healthcare more widely accessible and the highest quality possible, so even those with less privilege have access to the tools they need to keep their bodies healthy.