A paradigm shift in healthcare is needed.



Paradigm and paradigm shift are not words used every day but they are powerful concepts. A paradigm requires immense energy to change.

To assist in understanding the concept of paradigm and more importantly paradigm shift I refer to one of my favourite management authors, Dr Stephen Covey.

Rather than paraphrasing his comment I have received permission from his organisation to quote his explanation on this website.

Einstein put it this way:

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

These statements underscore one of the most profound learnings of my life: If you want to make, minor, incremental changes and improvements, work on practices, behaviour or attitude. But if you want to make significant, quantum improvement, work on paradigms.

The word paradigm stems from the Greek word paradeigma, originally a scientific term but commonly used today to mean a perception, assumption, theory, frame of reference or lens through which you view the world. It’s like a map of a territory or city. If inaccurate, it will make no difference how hard you try to find your destination or how positively you think-you’ll stay lost. If accurate, then diligence and attitude matter. But not until.

For instance, how did they attempt to heal people in the middle ages? Bloodletting. What was the paradigm? The bad stuff is in the blood; get it out. Now if you did not question this paradigm, what would you do? Do more. Do it faster. Do it more painlessly. Go to TQM or Six Sigma on bloodletting. Do statistical quality controls, variance analysis.

Do strategic feasibility studies and organize around brilliant marketing plans so that you can advertise, “We have the highest-quality, world-class bloodletting unit in the world!” Or you might take people into the mountains and let them do free falls off cliffs into each others arms so when they return to the blood letting unit of the hospital they’ll work with more love and trust. Or you might let members of the blood letting unit sit around in hot tubs and explore their psyches with each other so that they develop authenticity in their communication.

You might even teach positive thinking in to your patients, as well as your employees, so the positive energy is optimized when blood letting takes place.

Can you imagine what happened when the germ theory was discovered – when Semmelweis of Hungary, Pasteur of France, and other empirical scientists discovered that germs are a primary cause of disease?

It immediately explained why women wanted to be delivered by midwives. The midwives were cleaner. They washed. It explained why more men on war’s battlefields were dying from staph infections than bullets. The disease was spread from the front ranks through germs. The germ theory opened whole new fields of research. It guides health care practices to the present day.

That’s the power of an accurate paradigm. It explains, and then it guides.

But the problem is that paradigms, like traditions, die hard. Flawed paradigms go on for centuries after a better one is discovered.

Dr Stephen Covey explains it well.

This website is about changing an existing paradigm and then providing a guide to the new paradigm.

In today’s health paradigm you can use the example of one of the most prevalent degenerative diseases cancer. Many charities talk about finding a cure for cancer. A noble aim but somehow I feel it is a bit like the story of the small child and the kings new clothes. People are blinded by the existing paradigm.

Perhaps there should be a far greater emphasis on prevention rather than looking for an elusive cure.

Prevention involves the following – Education on diet - A focus on eating the proper amount and types of food; eating food, including the highest quality supplements, that contain the right amount of vitamins, minerals and amino acids; getting the right exercise and balancing your intake of nutrients to suit it; avoiding harmful chemicals in your food and water.

Reference: Stephen R Covey. The 8th Habit. From Effectiveness to Greatness (Author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) Free Press 2005 p19,20 Reference #16