How To Survive the Coming Prescription Drug Storm

It’s an average afternoon at your new, medically integrated practice. Everyone on staff is on the same page; team meetings and office collaboration are going fabulously.

Then it happens – the patient visit that fortifies in your mind the reason you decided to go with medical integration.

You and your medical doctor walk into a treatment room to talk with a patient. She briefly describes what’s ailing her.

“So, do you have a list of medications that you’re on,” your doctor asks the woman.

“Yes,” the woman says, rather proud of herself for having the foresight to come prepared. “I wrote it down. Here’s my list of problems and complaints and here’s my list of medications.”

Your doctor looks at the lists and says: “Let me tell you the order these occurred in. First, you have this complaint and you were prescribed this drug. Then you had this complaint, and you were prescribed this drug.”

Item by item he goes through her long list as the woman’s eyes widen.

“That’s amazing,” she exclaims. “How did you know all that?”

“Because if you quit taking all your medications, you’d be back to your first complaint.”

As comically unpleasant that office visit may appear, it is more commonplace than most of us may want to acknowledge.

Throwing Drugs at the Problem

Nearly half of Americans used prescription drugs in 2015, according to a federal survey released last year.

Here are the numbers:

  • 5 million of Americans 12 and over used pain relievers (36.4 percent)
  • 3 million used tranquilizers (14.7 percent)
  • 2 million used stimulants (6.4 percent)
  • 6 million used sedatives (6.9 percent)

The most common side effects of the most frequently prescribed prescription drugs include muscle pain, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, insomnia, coughing, hair loss, fluid retention and liver problems, according to to WebMD. Popular medications are prescribed for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, low thyroid function and diabetes.

Here’s the irony: Patients are showing up for treatment with symptoms related to the side effects of other prescription drugs. Add to mix the fact that prescription drugs only work on nearly a third of the patients.

“The vast majority of drugs – more than 90 percent – only work in 30 or 50 percent of the people,” Dr. Allen Roses told London-based The Independent. “Drugs out there on the market work, but they don’t work in everybody.” Roses was worldwide vice president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s sixth largest pharmaceutical company, and the academic geneticist at Duke University in North Carolina.

Treating the Side Effects

Turn the page on the American healthcare saga, and the story only gets darker. The side effects from most medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, has led to record numbers of suffering patients and deaths from ailments unrelated to the condition for which they initially sought treatment, according to Drugwatch. Nearly two million people are going to their doctors or to emergency rooms for treatment from adverse prescription drug side effects.

About two million hospital patients are also suffering the side effects of prescription drugs every year.

How does this process work on this inside? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration relies on clinical trials conducted by pharmaceutical companies to determine a prescription drug’s benefits and side effects. The FDA is charged with approving only those drugs that demonstrate greater benefits than dangers, Drugwatch states.

After drugs go on the market, MedWatch, a voluntary FDA program, oversees their effectiveness and potential harm based on healthcare practitioners’ reports from patient complaints.

Pharmaceutical companies, in turn, are expected to report drug problems.

Waiting for the Fall

Is the system ripe for abuse? Americans’ heavily reliance on and abuse of prescription drugs and their ill health compared to most other western nations point to a system deeply flawed.

In fact, Americans rank last in personal health compared to citizens in 10 other wealthy countries in the categories of emotional distress, challenges in paying for healthcare and skipping doctor visits, according to a Commonwealth Fund report.

While Americans pay considerably more for healthcare than other wealthy nations, little has changed in the last 15 years, according to an NBC report.

“In comparison to adults in the other 10 countries, adults in the United States are sicker and more economically disadvantaged,” the Commonwealth Fund report states. “The United States trailed other countries in making health care affordable and ranked poorly on providing timely access to medical care (except specialist care). Problems were often particularly acute for low-income adults.”

Americans spend $9,523 per person per year for healthcare, substantially higher than their counterparts in other western nations. Spending for healthcare now exceeds $3 trillion annually. What’s the solution and how can chiropractors take the lead?

Finding the Medicine to Cure the Problem

Integrated medical practices are able to incorporate a variety of healthcare practices that produce greater, more natural outcomes to patient problems without creating other, more harrowing issues or leading to drug dependence or abuse.

As owner of an integrated practice, you as the chiropractor direct targeted care to patients with a holistic precision that orchestrates advice from experts in other healthcare fields.

Proper practitioner licensing in the different medical disciplines allows chiropractors who lead integrated medical practices to bill insurers for appropriate services in their associated categories. Nurse practitioners or medical doctors can supervisor services that may fall outside the scope of care the chiropractor is able to provide.

On the other side, the other healthcare practitioners in integrated practices must understand and embrace the type of holistic, non-pharmaceutical treatment you as the chiropractor provide.

While prescribing medications to alleviate patient symptoms isn’t removed entirely from the diagnostic picture, it is placed in its proper place and not used in an ad hoc manner that adds fuel to a growing American healthcare crisis.

How Does It Work in Practice?

We use an initial functional physical exam to gauge patients’ overall health at the beginning of the process. Once medical doctors understand our objectives and how the exam is performed, they recognize its value in developing a collaborative approach in the medical integrated process.

Stepping into the more expansive role as chief executive of an integrated practice allows you as the chiropractor to expand your business and provide more comprehensive services to your patients.

In fact, the all-in-one approach to healthcare is increasingly becoming the marketplace model for other services in American society. Following so many news reports and tougher stances by lawmakers against opioid and prescription drug abuse, Americans are seeking medical attention armed with more information and are growing leery of one-size-fits-all treatment plans that rely on specialized outlooks.

Learn more about how Advanced Medical Integration can set you on the right track to building a prosperous, staff-driven and patient-centered practice that allows you to create your own future.

Contact us today!