“One more breast cancer diagnosis is one too many.
We must be the generation that ends it once and for all”.
— Dr. Susan Love
The idea of understanding the cause of the disease is necessary to prevent it. Russell Ackoff, the pioneering systems thinker and organization scholar, would agree with Dr. Love. He famously described the dangers of thinking in terms of curing a disease or solving a problem.
Says Ackoff, “We walk into the future facing the past — we move away from, rather than toward, something. This often results in unforeseen consequences that are more distasteful than the deficiencies removed.”
The future of medicine is to prioritize keeping people healthy for longer periods. We are moving away from the tradition of “sick care” to genuine health care. This shift is a break from the now and then, when untold billions were spent on developing treatments for numerous health issues. Medicine has been focused on the question: How do we develop better solutions for health problems in the form of advanced drugs or surgeries? Medicine should instead create and sustain health over curing disease. The goal is to promote lifelong preventive health practices to improve health span — the number of disease-free years in a person’s life. However, this approach is incompatible with the medical industry’s focus on extending lifespan — surviving the cycle of diseases and treatments. Medicine has been oriented towards the past: moving away from illness. As Christian Seelos writes in this month’s Stanford Social Innovation Review, Medicine needs to be oriented towards the future: building and maintaining health around a vision of “Zero Disease”.