Patients are flooding hospitals in 2022, and not just for COVID-19.
According to the CDC, chronic disease, not COVID-19, is still the leading cause of death in the US, rising at an alarming rate. The total deaths attributed to chronic disease in 2021 totaled over 1.6 million, with heart disease killing 696,962 people in 2021, twice that of COVID-19.
“Our healthcare system systematically disadvantages patients with chronic conditions. said Dr. Mona Bhalla, a physician at Wisdom, a functional medicine clinic based in Portland, Oregon. “Chronic diseases are often very manageable, but it takes time educating patients.”
The average primary care physician has around 2,000 patients and sees an average of 20 patients a day, according to a 2018 Survey of American Physicians. The average appointment time with a primary care physician is 20 minutes. This leaves little time for each patient.
“It’s unrealistic to think doctors can help a patient manage a complex condition in 20 minutes. The system needs to change,” said Dr. Bhalla.
The situation continues to escalate as COVID further strains doctors’ time. As hospitals flood with patients, patients with chronic conditions are neglected from essential care. In December, Tony Tsanitis died in a hospital in Brimfield, MA, from kidney failure as he waited for an ICU bed while the 17 nearest hospitals were full.
Need to see a dermatologist in Boston? The average appointment wait is a staggering 72 days.
It appears the problem of healthcare worker shortage will only get worse as healthcare workers leave their jobs in record numbers. 3% of healthcare workers quit their job in November 2021, the highest on record.
32% of nurses said they were likely to leave their positions in the coming year, up from 22% last February, according to a survey conducted in late 2021 by McKinsey.
This is bad news if you have a chronic disease.
One innovative doctor’s office in Portland, OR, is helping address these systematic problems. Wisdom is a Functional Medicine clinic that has designed a new way for patients with chronic conditions to work with a doctor.
Functional medicine is a new approach to medicine that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease.
“Functional medicine addresses many of the blind spots of conventional healthcare,” says Adam Carney, Founder, and CEO of Wisdom. “Our doctors see patients for 60 minutes, do a full health analysis of each patient, and help them make essential diet & lifestyle changes. We go to the grocery store with patients to train them how to eat better.”
Wisdom launched in 2021 in response to the growing chronic disease crisis. For just $149 a month, patients get access to a functional medicine doctor and a health coach with regular, monthly appointments. Many of their services can be covered by health insurance if you have out-of-network benefits.
Wisdom takes patients all over the country via telemedicine and can see patients in Portland, OR, and a growing number of cities.