Blog: The Foundation of Wellness

Medicine has changed. While doctors historically had the time to spend with their patients and truly get to know them, the medical system today has too often neglected this basic tenet of the doctor-patient relationship. House calls have turned into fifteen-minute appointments and getting in touch with your doctor has meant waiting on the phone to have a message sent, which may or may not be returned. It is unfortunate, because I know that so many doctors wish to do more for their patients and yet feel unable to do so while working within the confines of the medical system. The Forward Focus Concierge model represents the antithesis of this nationwide push towards a corporate medical structure that too often does not serve the best interests of either the patients or doctors. It is why I am so grateful to have joined the Forward Focus practice which allows me to practice preventative medicine in the way that I have always envisioned.

During my residency training, I was fortunate enough to take care of a low socioeconomic patient class which often had limited medical access and therefore presented with a wide variety of late disease manifestations. After completing my residency, I began working in the inpatient setting as a hospitalist within the Northwestern System and cared for some of the most medically complex and sickest patients. I have witnessed the depths to which disease can manifest itself and have come to understand that so much of what I observed could be prevented. My passion for primary care and prevention has been cultivated by these experiences.

To me, taking care of patients begins with an understanding that the foundation of wellness is defined by four pillars of health which are: nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management. I firmly believe that a large percentage of the chronic ailments that plague our society could be prevented and often even reversed if the above areas are optimized. While there is always a role for prescribed medication, and I certainly have no qualms about prescribing evidence-based therapies, my goal is to minimize the drugs being prescribed and instead focus on empowering patients to be their own vehicle of change by slowly improving their lifestyle.  The power of a healthy diet combined with movement cannot be overstated. Nor can treating sleep and stress management be overlooked. In my opinion, these strategies will almost always be more impactful than a prescribed pill. The goal isn’t just to prolong an individual’s lifespan, but perhaps more importantly their healthspan. In other words, helping patients live longer, but with the strength, vigor, and cognition to continue doing all of the things that they love until late in life. In my own busy life, I try to adhere to the same values that I discuss so frequently with my patients. Rest assured, if I’m recommending a lifestyle intervention to my patients, it’s only after I have carefully vetted the prescribed strategy and worked towards optimizing this aspect of my own life. I believe that anyone can learn to enjoy healthy food and exercise, it’s only a matter of experimenting till you find what works for you. Like anyone, I’m not perfect at following my advice, but I can certainly say that I feel my best when I do. I am eager to continue helping my patients on their own journey towards a healthier life.

By Dr. Ari Katz

June 2, 2023