Dr. Oyelowo Weighs in on “Achieving Whole Health,” publication provides roadmap for improving healthcare in the U.S.  

Dr. Oyelowo Weighs in on “Achieving Whole Health,” publication provides roadmap for improving healthcare in the U.S.  

At NWHSU, we believe the future of healthcare is integrative, whole-person care. In February, the National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine published “Achieving Whole Health: A New Approach for Veterans and the Nation. 

The book, which was commissioned by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Samueli Foundation, and the Whole Health Institute, provides a roadmap for improving health and well-being for veterans and the nation. The committee who wrote the book advocate for inter-professional, team-based approaches to health care that center trust while promoting well-being and preventing disease.  

The authors call to shift the conversation from reactive, disease-oriented medical care to health care that prioritizes prevention, patient goals and purpose. They recognize how environment, socio-economic status, family and community can impact health and health care delivery systems.  

This approach aligns with NWHSU’s vision, and requires the inclusion of chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists—alongside other complementary and integrative providers—to be at the table.  

We asked Northwestern Health Sciences University faculty member Tolu Oyelowo, DC, PhD to explain why this publication is important, and how it fits with our work at NWHSU.

The human being is made up of interconnected systems. Individuals are inherently connected to their families and communities. The health of an individual or group of individuals has significant ramifications on the health of their communities, and society at large. The converse is also the case. A patient’s zip code is a determinant of their health.  

To address a patient as a sum of its parts rather than as a whole is a miss. To treat a patient without acknowledging or properly addressing their social determinants means that 40 – 60% of what influences their health outcomes has been omitted.  

The VA has been on the forefront of holistic health care for a while but is now expanding its whole health system initiative from eighteen sites to all sites.  

The people-centered, integrative and transformative goals set forth in this book will facilitate creating and supporting health for people living with chronic disease, mental health concerns, and disabilities.  

As both an insurer and health care provider, the VA is uniquely positioned to test the hypothesis that providing holistic care can and will improve health outcomes and perhaps save costs; and that incorporating an individual’s goals and priorities into all care plans and decision making is essential.  

This is an approach that chiropractors and public health experts have attempted to elevate for centuries: that a patient is not an island. Health practitioners should be a web around the patient. The environment impacts health outcomes.  

To bring systems together—to leverage federal and local government resources to improve patient outcomes by acknowledging that the patient is connected to a community and that a community of health care providers can and should collaborate around a patient centered model for best outcomes—is exciting and laudable.  

This book describes the goals and the plans that the VA will implement. If the recommendations are fully executed, VA members and society at large will be the better for it. 

 -Dr. Oyelowo

Story by Kit Harlow, Chiropractic Student