Square Peg, Round Hole: a visit from Dr. Walter Bortz

So what’s next for medicine? Dr. Walter M. Bortz, past co-chairman of the AMA’s Task Force on Aging and former President of The American Geriatric Society, and a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford, stopped by to Rock Health to share his perspective on the current approach toward aging and disease. Dr. Walter believes that we can not accept the current inequity; we have to do something. Now is the time for a revolution in health, we just have to find the right replacement paradigm.

Dr. Bortz spent the last 60 years practicing medicine and watching the transformation of tools, practices and facilities. So what is the one thing that has not changed? The core motivation of physicians to keep their patients healthy.

Nobody knows what health looks like; and there are no biomarkers for fitness. Health is to people as water is to fish. Even the most authoritative organizations like the World Health Organization have difficulty defining it. Dr. Bortz dares to define health as the assertion and assurance of human potential.

In contrast to the current approach, he believes that medicine needs to take a preemptive approach to help people become healthy rather than waiting to treat an unhealthy person. Medicine has two tools: pills and surgery.  But the two biggest problems in the US are aging and diabetes, both of which are better off without pills or surgery. “Old people don’t need to take a pill, they need to talk a walk,” says Bortz. All else being equal, he cites that a fit person at 70 is like an unfit person at 40.

His final words to the entrepreneurs at Rock Health was to be find a way to help shape it into that allows a square peg into a new square system.

Want to learn more?

Also by Dr. Bortz:

Next Medicine
Dare to be 100

Other suggested reading:
The structure of scientific revolution by Thomas Kuhn
Order out of Chaos by Ilya Prigogine