by Dr. Bill Rawls
Last Updated 10/31/16
Here we go again with the naming game. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has changed the official name of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) to Systematic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID).
Add that to the long list of other names including Gulf War Illness, adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue and Chronic Immune Dysfunction (ChronicID), mixed connective tissue disorder and, not to be left out, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). In addition to changing the name, they have also set new criteria for what defines the condition.
The purpose for the new classification is preparation for International Disease Classification, edition 10 (ICD-10).
ICD-10 is the newest edition of the disease coding system used by healthcare providers as required by Medicare and health insurance companies.
The new system is designed to ensure quality of practice by requiring very specific coding of both diagnoses and care provided. ICD-10 will go into effect in Fall of 2015.
For those sitting in the ivory tower, it may seem like a stupendous idea; but for healthcare practitioners it means a sea of red tape and less likelihood of getting paid for work provided. For patients, it translates into decreased access to quality care and less choice in treatment options.
Patients with conditions like SEID (or whatever you’d like to call it) will find themselves sidelined more than ever before. In other words, if you have one of these conditions and truly want to get well, you are going to have to go outside the healthcare system to get help.
As a physician who suffered from this condition, I understand the nature of the problem very deeply.
I was exposed to a variety of diagnoses including chronic fatigue syndrome, “soldier’s heart” by one doctor, fibromyalgia, and finally tested positive for Lyme disease. But even after all of those diagnosis, I was still not offered any real solutions for restoring my health.
The biggest problem with establishing absolute diagnostic criteria for this type of condition is that people who are sick, but do not fit the criteria, get left out in the cold.
In addition, the criteria are defined by symptoms, not by underlying causes. When potential underlying causes are explored, the margins between chronic fatigue syndrome and other similar conditions like fibromyalgia and even Lyme disease starts to blur.
It wasn’t until I put the concept of diagnosis aside and started focusing on restoring the healing capacity of my body that I actually started getting well. Since restoring my own health, I have helped hundreds of patients do the same.
Unfortunately, this approach does not fit into the coding system. The new treatment protocols allow only for treatment of symptoms with drugs. Wellness is just not in the picture.
So, what’s the answer for patients with conditions like chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia?
In my opinion, the IOM (Institute of Medicine) is twenty years behind in understanding these conditions and offers little in the way of effective therapy. Much of this diagnosis-driven thinking is actually holding patients back from overcoming these conditions.
The Internet allows delivery of cost-efficient programs that can provide patients with a safe and effective solution for restoring their health. In my opinion, the only practical solution is working outside the healthcare system.
I’ve been working to create a cost-effective solution for chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia patients for more than five years. This month, I have launched a comprehensive online health restoration program that is designed to carry patients through the entire process of overcoming conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease.
Feedback from patients who have done my online pilot programs has been extremely positive and results have been great. I finally feel like I am reaching my mission as a physician – helping people to get well and truly restore their health!