Each year, 1.7 million Americans die and 25 million are disabled by chronic diseases created or aggravated by the patient's lifestyle, according to the CDC. But coaching patients on how to change their lifestyle and improve their health has not been one of doctors' strengths, to say the least. In fact, many provide only vague recommendations that do little impact a patient's behavior. But one group of doctors is working to reverse this trend. Two years ago, the group founded a new organization, the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), to train doctors in the art of helping patients change their habits. The training would teach doctors how interview patients on their life choices effectively and make detailed suggestions on how to care for their condition. If they don't use lifestyle management techniques, doctors often fail in their attempts fight dangerous, prevalent conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, says Dr. John Kelly, president of the ACLM.
The group would like to make lifestyle medicine a credentialed clinical specialty, with guidelines supported by academic research, as well as making such training a standard part of the medical school curriculum. The movement faces some challenges, though, given the fact that Medicare and private insurers seldom pay for such counseling sessions. The ACLM plans to lobby Congress to change reimbursement policies for such counseling.
To learn more about this trend:
- read this article from The New York Times