“Fifty percent of the causes of mortality in this country are related to modifiable behaviors,” says Dr. Dennis H. Novack, a professor of internal medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. “Smoking, eating, sedentary lifestyles—all of those and more.”
As the film points out, insurance companies cover medical bills and surgery when patients with these behaviors become acutely ill, but they frequently deny claims for the relatively low cost of preventive care and coaching people to make lifestyle changes that could prevent disease and death.
“Many people feel that the practice of medicine is broken in America,” says The New Medicine producer and director Muffie Meyer of Middlemarch Films. “Some are using alternative medicines without telling their doctors. Others are focusing on exercise, nutrition and meditation to gain control of their health.”
The National Institutes of Health has been funding more scientific research to determine which alternative healing strategies are safe and effective so today’s physicians have solid evidence, which will ultimately broaden medical choices for patients.
“Integrative medicine means being able to offer patients a full array of choices from conventional medicine, but to be able to add those complementary and alternative strategies where we have scientific evidence that they work and they’re safe,” says Dr. Margaret Chesney, deputy director of The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at NIH.