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Melon Health Blog

Next Gen Healthcare: Treating The Whole Person

Posted by Siobhan Bulfin on Jun 19, 2019 2:11:27 PM

Medical progress comes from a long history of development and discovery. For instance, in the Civil War Era doctors developed just enough knowledge to keep patients alive. And while they would’ve wanted to also improve a patient’s quality of life, they didn’t always have the tools necessary to do so.

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Fast forward to today. Health care organizations are still influenced by the past, and that’s a good thing—most of the time. But occasionally traditions and methodologies get passed down that aren’t all that helpful in today’s current health care climate.  

Health care today focuses on treating sick people. We’ve never fully capitalized on helping people avoid sickness in the first place. In the last century, medical technology has multiplied faster than any other time period in recorded human history.

Despite all these advances, chronic disease is sweeping the globe at breakneck speed, leaving patients at risk.

In an era when the United States needs scalable solutions, it’s time to move beyond reacting to disease and actually preventing it in the first place. Here’s how the next generation of health care can do this.

Consumer-focused models

Just like many other industries, health care is starting to focus on patients. These programs enable patients to engage with their own health in order to manage chronic illness and comorbidities.

Patient engagement efforts need to make it easy for patients to self-manage their health. For example, in the grocery sector, businesses are developing new ways to engage consumers and expand brand loyalty. Today buyers can purchase groceries online and have them delivered to their front door. Other businesses like DoorDash eliminate the food prep stage and deliver on-demand meals.

Ten years ago most of these consumer-focused ideas didn’t even exist. But when industries realized that consumers need to simplify their lives, they started innovating new solutions. These solutions put the consumer front and center.

The same holds true for health care consumers. Patients need accessible ways to improve their overall health and comply with their care plans. Since patients are the ones who use digital health solutions on a daily basis, they must be geared toward meeting their most pressing needs.

Supported self-management

The US needs scalable solutions to improve patient outcomes, and self-management is a primary method to achieve this.

Around 70% of patients with chronic disease are non-complex. With the right support and knowledge, they can learn to self-manage symptoms and make behavior changes to improve their quality of life. These patients need access to tools, resources, and personal support.

Many patients need a support system that helps them set, meet, and sustain their goals. That’s why Melon’s programs include interactive access to health coaches and peer communities. With this level of support, patients can develop the courage and motivation to take preventative steps and manage their conditions.

Whole-person approach

Another important component of next generation of health care is whole-person care. Patients need tools that focus on their needs and encourage self-management. They also need to address other life domains that may contribute to poor lifestyle choices and increase their risk of chronic illness.

For instance, Medi-Cal beneficiaries may have socio-economic factors such as distance decay, housing problems that negatively influence their wellness. In other cases, patients may be dealing with emotional health issues that predispose them toward chronic disease.

These types of patients need a health care system that doesn’t just deal with surface-level symptoms, but that also addresses contributing factors. Rather than simply focusing on patients currently diagnosed with diseases, this approach helps care for those who aren’t diagnosed but are at-risk of developing chronic illness.

Shared decision making

More than ever before, patients need to be able to share in their own care coordination. This gives patients an active role in their own health, and capitalizes on the fact that they have a vested interest in their own wellbeing.

With the right tools, patients have the capacity to learn about their conditions and become non-clinical experts in their disease management. As they receive advice and insight from health coaches and other peer experts, they’re better enabled to help clinicians choose solutions for their health.

By enabling patients to make decisions and set goals, medicine is taking one more step toward scalable health care. As patients help other patients, clinicians are free to focus on acute conditions that need immediate medical attention.

Giving at-risk patients a voice enables them to better counteract physical symptoms and address mental health issues. This is what the next generation of health care needs—scalable solutions that treat the whole person. This will result in long-lasting progress against chronic disease and toward disease prevention.

How can your practice benefit from this approach to whole-person patient care?

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Topics: scaleable healthcare, behavior change, emotional wellness, whole person care

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