Cancer. Heart disease. Stroke. It sometimes feels as though our bodies are under siege from every side — anything we do could be potentially disastrous, any oversight a fatal mistake, any symptom the first sign of a devastating illness. Television, books, magazines, newspapers and the Internet provide a daily bombardment of the latest research on health risks, and undeniably there are many, many people suffering from debilitating and tragic illnesses. But are we becoming excessively anxious about some scary diseases? And in our quest to find and fix problems, are we inadvertently over-treating and perhaps even harming more people than we help? At considerable expense? While ignoring things that really would contribute to improving our health?
These are the controversial questions Dr. Nortin Hadler asks in this issue’s cover story by Maggie Mahar. Her report challenges some fundamental assumptions about health care. In fact, as we report, Washington is the first state in the nation to commit to shared medical decision making — a formalized program to help patients team up with their doctors to map out the best course of treatment after learning the pros and cons of their options. Food for thought as the nation begins the process of health care reform.
Also in this issue, Nicholas Deshais reports on a pilot program in Spokane that will allow patients to access their own complete medical records, anytime, anywhere. And I think you’ll enjoy meeting Dr. Andy Agwunobi, the chief executive officer of Providence Health Care. Dr. Andy describes his unlikely journey to the Inland Northwest and how his unique path has influenced his philosophy of health care.
And starting in this issue, you’ll find a section devoted to a special topic: This time we “Focus on Fitness” as Zach Hunt, personal trainer, takes on Wii Fit, personal trainer. Can this sleek game system help you slim down? Michael Bowen offers training tips for achieving Bloomsday success, and Taryn Hecker challenges you to identify the best fitness drink. Look for future special sections on kids’ health and healthy homes.
To your health!