If you’re uninsured, doctors are your worst enemy: They may help your pesky cold disappear, but they’ll also wipe out your bank account, and may even hunt you down for more after that. But the M.D.s behind functional medicine aren’t after your money; nor do they want to send you to a specialist who is. They want to make you so healthy that you’ll hardly ever need health insurance again. These are doctors you want to be your friends.
So what is functional medicine? That was the topic of conversation for nearly five hours at a recent event hosted by New York’s Urbanzen Foundation, where a panel of experts led by Dr. Frank Lipman convinced a full house that we need to change a lot more about health care than just insurance. The field’s top advocates, practitioners, and researchers all offered their own explanations of what it is and why we should all care about it; even for them, it wasn’t easy to give a one-sentence explanation. Their definitions ranged from super-simple (“medicine that makes sense”) to radical (“disruptive technology that will overthrow the tyranny of the diagnosis”), but the gist is that functional medicine is a way of treating patients that reorients the focus away from symptoms of disease, towards its causes. More