January 2020 Issue

Editor’s Spot: Health Care’s Future
By Judith Riddle
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 22, No. 1, P. 6

If you’ve ever asked yourself or fellow colleagues what the future holds for health care, perhaps some or all of your questions were answered if you attended the Opening Session, “Transparency Revolution: The Future of Healthcare,” at FNCE® in October 2019 at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Of all the sessions I attended, this was the most intriguing.

Keynote speaker Martin “Marty” Makary, MD, a surgical oncologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital and professor of health policy and management, wowed the crowd of nutrition professionals about the health care system’s modern-day problems and the exciting positive changes ahead. And he did it with humor and amusing, real-life anecdotes.

Makary is author of The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care — and How To Fix It and writes for The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. He’s also a frequent commentator for NBC and Fox News.

He talked about many burgeoning trends dietitians can anticipate in health care’s future. But what stood out to me most were the following trends on which the dietetics and medical community will focus:

Food as lifestyle medicine. Dietitians will continue to play an increasing key role in advancing this movement and educating patients, physicians, and multidisciplinary teams about the power of food in preventing, managing, and treating chronic disease.

The “appropriateness” of health care. Thousands upon thousands of procedures and surgeries patients undergo annually will become unnecessary as other treatment options are used. For example, appendectomies are being replaced with antibiotics for appendicitis unless rupture is imminent.

Emphasis on inflammation. Years from now, clinicians will measure patients’ health by their body’s inflammatory state and use it as a basis to prescribe medication—as inflammation is the root cause of chronic disease. This is another opportunity for RDs to educate clients about anti-inflammatory dietary patterns. A recent study in JAMA showed that a combination of NSAIDs and physical therapy is one of the best treatments for severe knee pain due to osteoarthritis, not total knee replacement—a key example of an inflammatory condition and appropriateness of care.

The gut microbiome. Makary said the microbiome is the “marker of disease” and the “center of health” and will remain a leading area of research now and in the future.

As you ponder these trends moving forward, consider setting some goals for yourself to further your education, grow professionally, and boost your career with our 2020 monthly planner on page 26. And don’t miss the other articles on pomegranates’ antioxidant power, BMI vs waist circumference, high-fiber convenience foods, and our CE course on nutrition and female hair loss. Please enjoy the issue and its new design!

Judith Riddle