An Inconvenient Truth We All Know :
Wellness is not an entitlement. It is both a behavioral choice and a responsibility, subject, of course, to some genetic and congenital limitations. The repair of the damages made by bad will cause us to suffer significant consequences and also bankrupt ourselves and our country.
The Challenge We Face:
To meaningfully connect with every human being we encounter to show them a better, healthier way to live
The Big QUESTION:
How can YOU combine your care, skill, judgment with an outward mindset to help someone get healthier today AND to differentiate yourself and your practice?
Here’s a Real Life Example
My wife and I went out to dinner with our friends, one of whom is a brilliant, highly accomplished nephrologist who is about to phase out of medicine and into retirement over the next few years. Alan and I were both residents at the same hospital and have remained friends for thirty- plus years. He’s an outstanding physician who has worked extremely hard, going from hospital to office to dialysis centers, often working well over 10 hours a day, not to mention the nights he is on call for life and death emergencies. Naturally, our conversation turned to our work. Alan deals with very, very sick people, whose kidneys are malfunctioning and/ or whose blood pressure is dangerously high. “we spend more money on dialysis patients who don’t show up”, Alan told me, to my astonishment, “ Non-compliant people cost us a fortune”
What Alan told me is that the dialysis world is filled with the same “no-show” issue that plagues many of our dental practices. Even as I’m writing this, I’m thinking, “are you kidding me? People put their lives at risk and won’t go out of their way for life sustaining treatment?!!”
If I can take a moment to state a fact in a politically incorrect manner, health is not an entitlement. It is both a behavioral choice and a responsibility, subject, of course, to some genetic and congenital limitations. If we make choices that are deleterious to our health and if we expect the repair of the damages made by those choices to be an entitlement, we will suffer significant consequences and also bankrupt ourselves and our country.
In our world, periodontal and dental health are attainable. It’s easy. Practice good hygiene habits, eat properly, correct issues before they take a toll, get checked periodically, and keep it all simple. Our challenge, my friends, is to get the message to people. We need to come together and battle the “gee Doc, it doesn’t hurt, so I really don’t want to fix the tooth, floss my teeth, correct my bite, etc.” We need to create new practice models to enhance wellness and discourage disease.
We have a huge opportunity to use our relationship based practices to influence people and show them that behavior is the key to health and wellness. My friend Alan’s frustration is the result of a population that is conditioned to think that they can do anything they want and the doctor will be there to fix it.
The same inconvenient truth holds together for ourselves- we, too, need to keep our own bodies in shape. Let’s cut down on the bad eating, let’s exercise to keep our muscle mass up and our body fat down. Let’s stay intellectually engaged to fend off the risk of soul-robbing dementia. And let’s stay socially engaged because that, too, is the key to quality longevity.
Forty- plus years after his tragic passing, Dr Bob Barkley’s words are resonating loud and clear. We have work to do, folks, for ourselves, for those we serve, and for our country. The political implications of this are way beyond our capacity to deal with; however, we can begin to fix the world, one dentist and one person at a time.