It's not enough to be healthy

October 17, 2012

Mark L. Friedman, MD, FACEP, FACP

I would make the assumption that if you surveyed a room of 20 people on what it means to be healthy, you'd get 20 different answers.

Is being healthy eating right? Sleeping 8 hours a night? Not smoking? Exercising 3 days a week? Or 5? Is being healthy having an annual doctor's exam? Cutting out that morning latté? Following the latest trends in dieting and being an informed consumer? The questions are endless, and they constantly change.

While the definition of health is broad, opaque, and generally inconsistent, the one constant is who is responsible for your health. And that answer is you.

We are each responsible for eating right, getting enough sleep, not smoking, exercising regularly, and visiting a doctor. Sure, it's a lot. It can be overwhelming and even confusing to know not just what to do but how much to do it. But owning the reasonability for your health is not a trend, and it will be on you for perpetuity.

You might next ask yourself whether anyone else has your best interest in mind. Sure, the payers and doctors want to keep you healthy, but they operate with incentives. Ultimately, your loved ones and you will own the decision-making.

So what can you do to make it easier and generally be ahead of the game? There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The truth is, these responses sound elementary, but the message is simple: Start owning your health.

The best place to start is to be an active participant in your personal care. Take advantage of resources and information at your disposal. Be value conscious with your health decisions, educate yourself on preventative care, and become a stakeholder in the healthcare decision-making process. Include yourself in the care spectrum.

From a government perspective, the passage of the Affordable Care Act has made initiatives to help in the delivery of higher quality and more patient-centered care approaches. Being an informed consumer will allow you to take advantage and educate yourself on preventative care. To learn more about the Comprehensive Primary Care initiative, visit the website fact sheet.

Aside from getting enough rest and staying physically and mentally fit, my personal approach to health is to be aware of solutions and understand the work that others are doing to assist in my care continuum. The work that captivates my interest in personal care ranges from innovation in the technology behind health tracking devices to my awareness of health and wellness campaigns.

At First Stop we are continuing to work to make our resources valuable to you. We understand the challenges you face, the many questions you have that don't have easy answers, and that when you search for those answers you want information that you can trust. The team at First Stop wants, values, and encourages your feedback to help improve the resources we provide and assist with meaningful decisions you face. While staying healthy is on each of us, if there is somewhere we can turn, maybe that's half the battle.


Originally published Oct 17, 2012 10:00:08 AM.