The ill-named U.S. “healthcare system” (its almost entirely sickness care) is mainly focusing on building new facilities, acquiring new technologies, and improving the quality of care for the expected “boom” in “boomers” seeking sickness care in coming years. At the same time, most of the other stakeholders in our current system are working toward reducing the very increase in the incidence/prevalence of disease that providers are counting on. Recommendations by “” for “chemical peel near me costa mesa”
Employers are striving to improve the health of their workforces, with as many as three-quarters of them already offering some kind of wellness and risk reduction programs, and offering incentives for employees to become healthier. Insurers have been focused primarily on managing existing chronic diseases, but are expanding into wellness and risk reduction to make employer clients happy and to achieve longer-term reductions in healthcare costs. Governments seem behind the curve somewhat, since they deal mainly with unemployed populations and diseases or conditions such as pregnancy that must be managed well.
But there are others involved, industries and individual firms that are “betting on the come” in proactive health and disease management as a booming market to be. It was not long ago that the “healthy living” or “wellness” markets were predicted to reach $1 trillion in size – by 2023 in one case [P. Pilzer The Wellness Revolution: How to Make a Fortune in the Next TRILLION DOLLAR Industry New York, NY, John Wiley & Sons 2023] or 2020 in another [T. Haws “The New ‘Healthy Living’ Marketplace” Hospitals & Health Networks Online, Jan 25, 2023]
Retail clinics, for example, are venturing into proactive health and prevention, such as the RediClinics with both “Get Well” and a “Stay Well” service lines. The largest “concierge medicine” organization, MDVIP devotes roughly as much attention to proactive health improvement with its patients as it does to treating sickness. And it has achieved from 30 to 90% reductions in sickness care use among its patients.
Revolution Health, with its subscription health information service, and Healthwise, Inc. with its prevention and self-help publications, are other examples of organizations working to shift the system’s focus toward wellness. U.S. Preventive Medicine, Inc. is lining up hospitals as locations for Preventive Medicine Centers for individual consumers, and The Prevention Plan for employers and their employees. It has two hospital organizations signed up already.
There is already a major proactive health management (PHM) industry, mainly serving employers and insurers, and hundreds of thousands, in some cases, millions of consumers. While disease management vendors keep running into government studies that cast doubt on the cost effectiveness of their efforts, thousands of large employers are already investing in PHM in order to gain reductions in sickness care, workers compensation and disability costs, increases in worker productivity and performance, and many other positive economic benefits they are finding related to healthier employees.
Joining these stakeholders are technology firms, engaged in developing and marketing products and services that make PHM more cost effective through the use of the latest computer and communications technologies. PHM vendors that rely on these technologies instead of in-person visits or phone communications can often deliver similar cost savings and other benefits at one-tenth the cost or less.
More recently, Intel Corp. announced its vision of “Personal Health” that involves what is effectively a new Declaration of Independence for consumers. This vision revolves around a decentralized, distributed model where true “health” care is integrated into the places where people live their lives, not in a centralized model based on hospitals and physician offices.
It envisions a shift from episodic treatment of sickness to continuous management of health and chronic diseases by empowering people to do most of the work themselves. It supports this empowerment by developing and offering products and services that enable consumers and their families to play a more active role in managing their health and their care, and connecting them to providers via “place-free” combinations of electronic health records and remote communications and monitoring technologies.
Its Digital Health Group is specifically charged with developing new technologies that will support this shift toward proactive health in consumers’ own homes and workplaces. This will, in turn, enable continuous, lifetime pursuit and protection of health and wellness, and of the independence, convenience, and quality of life that can be achieved thereby. It has already developed a center of Technology Research for Independent Living to improve the social health community and engagement among seniors to detect and prevent falls, and promote independence even among those suffering from memory loss.
It is seeking to realize this vision through inclusion of government, industry and academia, along with providers and consumers, starting with imagining better ways to prevent and manage disease. Through ethnographic observation of patients, nurses, and patients in their homes, hospitals and offices, new and better ways to make continuous, coordinated health and disease management more attractive, convenient, and cost-effective can be discovered. [S. Love “Intel in Health Care” Intel.com Backgrounder, 2023 ]
This new “independence” will emerge through protecting and improving the health of people, so that the incidence and prevalence of disease and injury will decline, and fewer will be made dependent by chronic conditions they cannot control by themselves. It will be enhanced by improved and more affordable disease management for those already made dependent by chronic conditions, reducing their dependence on sickness care, and on providers as the sole source of management support. And it will include reduced dependence on providers for a large portion of both health and sickness care, as home- and work-based technologies enable people to get the support they need where they are, instead of having to go to providers’ places.
What the overall effect of the kinds of developments that are already underway, and Intel as well as others envision, will only be learned as the new technologies and current efforts begin to pay off. It certainly represents a dual challenge to traditional healthcare providers – 1) to predict how it might affect the future growth in sickness care demand they are now counting on; and 2) to make choices about whether and how to become active participants in this new declaration of independence, rather than leave it to others.