Dr. Weil Weighs in on Wellness

I recently received the Global Spa & Wellness Summit's Weekender newsletter, where they focused on Dr. Andrew Weil's video presentation during the recent summit. It was an interesting presentation, so I wanted to share the contents of the newsletter here and get your thoughts. In what ways do you agree or disagree with his point of view?

Dr. Andrew Weil addressed the GSWS delegates in Aspen via modern technology, as he was on an overseas trip at the time of the Summit. He made two important points relating specifically to our agenda: 1) Addressing the root cause of the U.S. healthcare system and suggesting how spas can help and 2) sharing his thoughts on the goal of happiness. Here are some of his observations—largely in his own words:

  • The U.S. spends more per capita on healthcare than any other country in the world‹upwards of 16% GDP ‹and at the same time has poorer health outcomes.
  • The root cause of the problem is that what is called healthcare, is actually a disease management system. All this money is spent to manage existing disease, most of which is lifestyle related and therefore preventable.
  • The reason there isn't a better job done with prevention and health promotion is simply that they don't pay.
  • The other reason for the expense is because of the reliance on technology to solve most all problems‹—this includes pharmaceutical drugs‹ and technology is very expensive. Health professionals are not trained in low-cost, low-tech ways of managing common ailments.
  • The problem is that this dysfunctional system is generating rivers of money that are flowing into very few pockets - the pharmaceutical industry, the manufacturers of medical devices and the big insurers.
  • Healthcare of the future has to be based on wellness and health promotion ­ the spa industry can be very central in this new kind of healthcare.
  • The only hope is through education, raising awareness, and a grassroots movement that changes the political balance of power. Spas could help by educating people about the importance of wellness, health promotion and prevention.
  • Regarding happiness - I'm not sure happiness is the goal of life. I think we should be open to the possibility of happiness but, it seems to me, it's much better to work towards contentment.
  • Contentment is an inner feeling of things being fulfilled that are relatively independent of external circumstances. When you're healthy, a part of health is a feeling of wellbeing ­ that may not be the same as happiness.

Check out the video of Dr. Weil's presentation here, or read through the entire transcript of his exact words.