The basic underlying principle of the health care system is to treat disease on the basis of diagnoses arrived at by using symptoms and investigations. However, the effectiveness of treatment based on this rationale has been questioned. This process, which often overlooks patients' specific environments, everyday experiences, social conditions and the external environment, has been reviewed with a different angle.
During the last few decades, there has been much criticism associated with this rationale. A number of 'new' concepts have been introduced in the medical discussions, such as illness, health, life quality and function. This has heralded a need for change in the everyday practices of parts of the health care system.
This healthcare system that consists of general practitioners, public health personnel, nurses and paramedics has been changing so subtly, that it has not kept pace with the momentum of change in the medical arena made more complex by the population explosion and healthcare issues. This is especially true of the initial diagnostic visits between the patient and the doctor where the primary encounters occur. This is also ripe for change in the preventive health care segment where a lot of earlier sidelined concepts have now started to emerge. Recently, concepts of health and illness have been changing from before. The comprehension of health and illness has been changing due to input fuelled by perspectives from many disciplines. Health has now become a more holistic concept and has benefited by the increasing acknowledgement of other sources like biology, environment, social position, and the role of the mind, culture, spirituality, race, and sex, that influence health and well being. These have served to widen the realm of focus on the issues of health and illness.
The health care systems are now more of a social model of health and this could explain the reasons for the increasing use of alternative therapies such as homeopathy, natural healing methods, acupuncture etc. Last, but not the least, stress has been accepted to be a major causative factor, and prevention and stress management methods seem to be a great approach to managing health proactively. This creates more focus on prevention than cure and more reasons to treat the causative factors rather than the symptoms of the disease.
The main influences that have initiated a need for the reformulation of biomedicine may be attributed to a number of causes, some of which have been discussed as follows.
Rising costs of health care are not matched by corresponding gains in population health; in particular health inequalities seem to take an upward trend. (Hallam, 2003) Managed health care has become so commercialised that it has become a luxury rather than basic need to be able to access medical care when essential. Modern investigative medical tests and treatments are expensive, rendering it unaffordable to a lot of people in the society. Individuals are bereft when they are unable to afford the huge insurance premiums, especially, the lower socio economic groups. This results in postponement of a visit to the doctor until really chronic, thereby not only missing opportunities to diagnose serious illnesses earlier than later but adding to the burden of the healthcare system by the extensive treatment that would now be required.