The Medicalization Of Society – How Can Health Apps Help?

medicalization of societyMedicalization is a valuable tool in organizing medical systems globally while providing communities with the opportunity to seek medical attention when necessary. It includes the implementation of a medical paradigm to define, prevent or resolve various matters in society. The medicalization process in society can be divided into multiple levels and degrees. The levels include conceptual, institutional and interactional while the degrees are characterized as fully, partially or minimally. This results in a hierarchy system and a larger focus on medical perspectives when defining almost any aspect of society.

Thus, medicalization, is a shift in structure that solely maintains a medical perspective which overlooks any social or economic factors. Amongst the benefits of medicalization, there a number of consequences that arises as well. This blog will explore the potential consequences of the medicalization of society. This will be by evaluating the levels and degrees of medicalization through social risk construction and the role of the prescribers. Lastly, we will be discussing the importance of a health app and how it could help to improve medicalization, using the CareClinic app in your daily routine.

What is Medicalization?

Medicalization allows individuals to obtain assistance when it comes to concerns they may experience on a daily basis. The term, medicalization, may be misleading as it may seem as though it is only associated with medical concerns. However, it is a process where a variety of problems that individuals may experience are viewed under a medical perspective. The problem arises when individuals began to medicalize problems that are not necessarily a medical issue. This can lead to a misdiagnosis or incorrect prescription of drugs, which can lead to a much more serious issue.

For instance, misusing medications can be extremely lethal due to side effects that may arise or simply because the use of drugs can trigger potential health concerns. These harmful side effects can serve to change the individual’s original health condition into a completely different condition that may affect a patient’s life much more severely. Nonetheless, the medicalization process is an important structure for many individuals who seek and require medical treatment as it is beneficial as long as it is used appropriately and when necessary. Currently, in our society it is safe to say that medicalization is overpowering an individual’s judgement to differentiate when it is necessary to seek treatment. Not only, is it an issue on the patient’s side but prescriber’s perspective as well.

Problems within Medicalization

Many patients are treated with various degrees of medicalization such as fully, partially or minimally depending on the medical problem. However, the problem arises when physicians and nurse practitioners who practice the partial or minimal approach of medicalization, only spend a limited amount of time with patients. Ivan Oransky from TED talk stated this is because they have limited training and are mainly focused on mass prescriptions compared to primary health care physicians who spend more time with medical assessments and treatment plans (R). While patients treated through a partial or minimal medicalization approach, in most cases, are not adequately assessed and eventually return for further medical treatment, lengthening the overall process. Therefore, the medicalization system becomes unfair for those are not receiving full care and experiencing longer wait times for treatment that is incomplete.

Businesses Involved with Medicalization

In the industry, medicalization is a business tool where marketing and publicizing products and treatments to patients has become a norm in society. This is done through commercials and almost any form of advertisement that encourages and promotes individuals to buy products and seek out treatments for their concerns. Cosmetic surgery has been a growing business in the industry for those who are looking to medicalize the basic physical features of one. Amongst the long list of alterations, some examples include tummy tucks, liposuctions, nose jobs or breast augmentation.

The business goes for both men and women who are concerned about their physical appearance and seek to change such parts of their body through medical processes. Consumers of health care are becoming the major players who are promoting the growth of such businesses. Using various products and services such as breast augmentation currently costing around $3,000, businesses have given people the opportunity to medically change themselves in whichever way they desire.  “From 1960s to 1990 two million women received silicone breast implants, 80 percent for cosmetic purposes” (R).

This clearly illustrates the shift from using breast implants for medical purposes to personal reasons over the years. I believe the cosmetic surgery business for women to medicalize natural appearance at any age is outrageous. It is unnecessary which can lead to unnatural beauty in a woman. This has proven that medicalization promotes an unauthentic way of living.

Are We Becoming Over-Medicalized?

On the conceptual level of medicalization, the excessive use and abuse of a medical approach to solve a number of unrelated concerns has led to the habit of defining all matters medically. Given that our society evolves strongly through communication, the development and implementation of medically defined concepts have become a norm. It is essentially a natural instinct to conceptualize any random concept under a medical perspective. Individuals look for a medical solution in any issue they experience. We believe that there is drug or a treatment that will solve their problem.

For example, ageing is an important concept that many individuals tend to medicalize unconsciously. It is common for individuals to link the idea of ageing with a number of health risks. When it reality it is just a natural process of life. Likewise, in the 1990s many adults were evaluated by physicians for ADHD and were treated with medication such as Ritalin. Adults would visit physicians and say, “My son has ADHD and I was just like him or I know I’m ADHD, I read it in the book” (R).  Accordingly, the impact of internet sources conceptualizing adult ADHD and CHAAD as a major disorder that requires prescriptions drugs is misleading. Although physicians do help treat ADHD, there are other ways to treat ADHD naturally by the purity of good nutrition or relaxation.

Media and technology advancements are major sources of information that encourage individuals to self-medicalize by taking their troubles to physicians and directly asking for specific medical solutions. Due to the wide range of information found on the internet and the low level of awareness, individuals may actually have certain health conditions. Many individuals can be forced into a medicalized lifestyle which leaves them confused and anxious about potential health concerns.

Be Aware on Taking Care of Yourself

From an interactional perspective of medicalization, there are a number of cases where the health care professional’s role becomes adverse. This is usually due to inadequate assessment, which leads to overprescribing medications when there are alternate treatments available. For instance, in ageing, many health practitioners diagnose a number of natural ageing processes as health concerns. Hair loss is a part of ageing that many people seek medical assistance for from health practitioners. As a solution, patients can be prescribed medication. Furthermore, cannabis can be a serious interactional health issue for those who obtain it for pain management or cancer treatment. However, this can lead to a psychological motive that can force someone to think that cannabis is their only treatment.

In addition, many fall into the medicalization process because they believe it is the only way to treat their problems. However, the chance of using prescribed drugs for those who do not need it can cause terrible health outcomes. These can ultimately lead to potential side effects. Moreover, this portrays serious consequences of individualism of social problems in an interactional perspective of medicalization.

The Role of Media on Medicalization

Accordingly, in many ways, our society is shaped through the various outcomes of medicalization. However, I believe that many individuals are abusing the process of medicalization resulting in a number of consequences. In addition, I disagree with the role media is playing on our society by targeting individuals through commercials or on websites to treat various health issues. Due to advertisements and marketing techniques, individuals are brainwashed in a sense to believe there is a medical solution to everything. Although, medicalization is a business industry, patients need to understand that concept of medicalization is not a solution for all issues.

From my knowledge, various home remedies, health apps or therapy can treat various health issues. Also, it can create a burden on the health care system. Health care practitioners require more training and time management for patients that need serious attention. This is because many patients are being over diagnosed or underdiagnosed in many cases. I believe medicalizing patients needs to be highly revaluated based on their medical issue. They should not be prescribed drugs for issues that are not a serious medical matter.

Importance of a Health App – Introducing CareClinic

CareClinic is a great health app that helps to track learn, and act on managing your overall health. Simply, it can help you avoid having to visit a hospital by tracking everything on your smartphone. This can be very beneficial for reducing wait times. This is especially true for those who have critical health conditions and needs medical attention right away. The CareClinic app also allows you to create a personal health record. This can benefit a lot of people to view their health information and create an organized list. Some of the things can include in a personal health record:

  • Medical bills and insurance claims
  • Blood type
  • Last physical exam
  • Medical conditions
  • Diagnoses, screenings, and test results
  • Recommended treatments

Overall, the CareClinic app helps to reduce the amount of stress in the medialized industry. This happens because individuals and families can simply maintain their personal health with modern technology. This allows health professionals to focus on patients with serious health conditions in the workplace. Additionally, choosing CareClinic builds a healthier, and happier change for people who need medical support frequently. CareClinic supports various health factors on reaching health goals, reducing stress, sleeping better, enhance wellbeing, engage in the community, and managing your complete wellness.

Care Teams

By using the CareClinic app, individuals can connect with health professionals right in their own homes. Your health care practitioners can easily view your treatment progress remotely. This saves a lot of time for people who travel for medical advice or inquires.

Care Plans

Additionally, various care plans are included in the app to keep your treatment details in one place. This enables you to edit, view, input, and review for any type of care plans. Some of the great care plans are nutrition, medications, record symptoms, and much more!

Health Diary

CareClinic includes various formats of capturing your health data. A health diary is crucial to help track health measurements and to quickly learn about your progress. Most common use cases for a general medical diary are:

There are many more diaries where you can customize your own template to write your thoughts as honestly as possible. Being able to write freely and honestly can possibly help you remember. You may realize a lot more information that may not have come to mind. Also, sometimes you may think you will remember side effects or health-related issues but may forget. The CareClinic app provides private diary entries where you can have a secured experience to reaching your goals. This can help you to save time on booking appointments with your doctor.

To Conclude

Medicalization is a beneficial tool in organizing the medical system in a structured manner. It also helps in providing medical attention for individuals. However, various consequences come along with the medicalization process. It is evident that the abuse of medicalization techniques has become prevalent among many populations. Not only have individuals developed the mindset of turning to medicalization for the majority of their concerns, but advancements in biotechnology has influenced pharmaceutical industries to develop a notion of promoting medicalization to populations as a way of living. As a result, this has led to increased marketing and publicity of medical products and services to individuals as consumers rather than patients.

Alongside this industrial perspective on medical services, the cases of overmedicating and misdiagnosing continue to arise given the role of the prescriber. The structure that medicalization offers for medical systems often hinder the health practitioner’s job as they are assigned to a fully, partial or minimal approach based their health care setting. This structure puts constraints on the time spent and assessment style of the patient, which in most cases leads to an incomplete or potentially incorrect diagnosis.

Medicalization is an important process in defining, treating, and preventing health issues. It can become an issue when there are no clear measures or limits to when, what and how matters can be medicalized. Abusing medicalization processes come alongside a number of serious consequences that range from reconstructing concepts in society to promoting unauthentic lifestyles to something as severe as misdiagnosing or overprescribing medications to individuals.

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Dharusan Sivanandarajah