Western medicine is becoming increasingly fragmented as tech giants invest in new technologies and new ways to improve care.
As a result, there is growing interest in Western medicine as a potential avenue for a more holistic approach to healthcare, says the Institute of Medicine.
But, there are some hurdles in the way.
While the field is undergoing significant change, Western medicine has not caught up to the rest of medicine in terms of what it can teach.
“What I would argue is that we haven’t quite made the transition that we need to make,” says John Schmitt, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
“We haven’t moved beyond the diagnosis of what the disease is, we haven [yet] moved beyond a single diagnosis of a particular disease.”
One key difference is that Western medicine does not have a cure, which is why doctors can prescribe medications in order to help patients stay well, Schmitt says.
“But you still need to understand what is going on in the body, and how to treat it.”
That’s where pharmaceutical companies come in.
The drug industry has become one of the largest employers in the US with more than 2.5 million jobs, and a $14 billion industry in the healthcare sector, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In 2016, pharmaceutical companies spent more than $2.6 billion on healthcare, according a report from the McKinsey Global Institute.
But as the healthcare industry expands, so does the need for specialists.
As Western medicine evolves, so do the types of medications that can be prescribed.
While there is a growing interest, Western Medicine’s reliance on the pharmaceutical industry has also raised concerns about the efficacy of pharmaceuticals.
Western medicine uses newer drugs that are more expensive and sometimes require patients to stay in hospital for longer periods of time.
“I think that we are seeing a real push toward this particular technology and its side effects, and there are a lot of questions that have to be answered before it becomes a mainstream treatment option,” says Schmitt.
Western Medicine isn’t the only area where the pharmaceuticals are taking a hit.
According to a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania, pharmaceuticals accounted for one-third of the $8.6 trillion spent on healthcare in 2016.
“There is a lot more emphasis on drug development, so that’s going to make a lot less money,” says Richard P. Brown, a professor of medicine at Columbia University.
The US is one of only five countries in the world that does not require drug companies to pay for studies and clinical trials that look at the safety and efficacy of a new drug.
In other countries, doctors must make sure that their patients are getting the treatment they need before prescribing it, says Brown.
“The big challenge is that it’s a very competitive field.
The best doctors can make $50,000 a year, and they’re not necessarily the best surgeons,” he says.
Some are worried that drug companies are not investing in the right research to help treat Western Medicine patients.
“It’s becoming a very difficult issue to get a hold of these pharmaceutical companies because they’ve got a lot to lose if they’re losing money,” said Dr. Richard L. Gelfand, a physician in the division of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Gefand is a clinical professor of endocrine medicine at the university and chairman of the Endocrine Society.
“If you look at pharmaceutical companies that are investing in this area, they are not making investments that can really help us get to a place where we can develop therapies that really work for patients, and that don’t cause side effects,” he said.
“That’s a big barrier to getting into the field.”
There are also some drawbacks to Western Medicine.
For one, there has been a decrease in the number of patients who are using pharmaceuticals to treat cancer, which means that there are fewer doctors, says Schumann.
“At some point, it’s going become a lot easier for a patient to die, and for doctors to be replaced,” he adds.
This has also impacted the cost of Western Medicine treatments.
The average cost of a Western Medicine treatment for a person in the United States is around $150,000, according the American Cancer Society.
The same cost for a treatment for the same disease in Germany is $200,000.
That translates to an average cost for treatments that cost about $300,000 for a typical Western Medicine patient.
The difference in price is due to the amount of care that a person needs in order for their body to respond to the medication.
That can mean that the treatments need to be administered at different times in order that the patient is able to recover from the drug.
“They are expensive because there is more money being spent on the hospital care and the medication,” says Brown, who points out that it also costs more to treat patients who do not respond to medications. “You