In the United States healthcare spending per capita ranges from 50 to 200 percent higher than in other developed countries. Despite the rise in cost, life expectancy has dropped for three years straight in the U.S. So while healthcare costs are rising, quality of care isn’t necessarily following suit.
In 2017 one half of medical costs across the U.S. were due to hospital care or clinical services. While many of these costs are necessary, services are paid for whether or not there are more affordable alternatives.
United States healthcare costs are mounting, but they aren’t an isolated incident. Cost increases exceeding inflation threaten to decrease healthcare effectiveness across the globe. This means that people increasingly will struggle to get the care they need especially in economically oppressed countries.
So while the need for care is increasing so is the cost. It’s time we begin asking ourselves where do we want healthcare to be in five years. Beyond that, how can we get there?
Our five year plan for US healthcare
Accessible healthcare for all
In five years healthcare should be more accessible to everyone regardless of economic status, race, gender, or geographic location. This is a big goal. So big it would be easy to never attempt. Instead let's face the problem head on and create innovative ways to tackle the obstacles that stand in the way.
Treating the conditions of life
While there could be many ways to do this, we believe the primary way is to prevent disease from happening in the first place - systematically treating the conditions of life and empowering patients across the globe to do the same.
Healthcare traditionally has focused on treating disease as it occurs. This is unfortunate. No one wants disease, and disease depletes healthcare resources while driving costs up. So the question traditional healthcare must answer is this: why start at the end of the process when you could start at the beginning?
If disease can be prevented (and it can be), then prevention is the first step towards making healthcare more affordable. Even if some people still get a disease, treating the conditions of life prevents those diseases from progressing.
As a whole treating the conditions of life prevents disease in the first place and prevents debilitating symptoms. For instance, if healthcare helps patients fight obesity by encouraging healthy, active lifestyles, then conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes also decrease.
How to do it
Treating conditions of life aims at getting people engaged in their own health. It’s reaches beyond an appointment and prescription counter. People taking ownership of their own health is when long term change begins.
But to do this healthcare providers have to be actively involved OR find new ways to incentivize patients to take ownership. With the time constraints clinicians are currently facing, how can they be more involved than they already are?
Whole person care
To really be effective at treating the conditions of life, clinicians need a way to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms or side effects. This means they have to be able to see the whole picture. Whole person care takes into consideration social, medical, behavioral, and economic factors patients face.
Included in this approach is an understanding of the way stress impacts patients’ physical and mental health. Persistent negative emotions have been shown to decrease health results in patients. By treating the underlying cause of symptoms, clinicians can expect to see results that go beyond the clinic.
A recent study shows that patients were more likely to follow through on treatment when paired with whole person care. But it goes without saying that this kind of care can’t be administered in a traditional appointment. It requires long term involvement and interaction with healthcare experts.
At the heart of holistic approaches is a desire to connect patients to a sense of community support whether through clinicians, health coaches, or online help groups.
By treating the conditions of life, healthcare systems seek to affect lifestyle changes that benefit both the patient and healthcare systems. Patients avoid chronic disease, and medical institutions avoids the costly treatments associated with chronic illness.
When faced with lifestyle changes, many people attempt too much too fast. That’s why they don’t succeed. Treating conditions of life means helping patients make small habits they cannot fail to reach. Over time these habits start to compound resulting in transformed lifestyles.
In the case of weight loss, a small change could be making a commitment to walk for ten minutes two times a week. Or it could be substituting carbonated water for a soda. In either case, the small change creates the foundation for bigger change.
In all of this, patients need encouragement to keep going with these changes that may seem insignificant at first. This is why they need support and coaching from a community. When they’ve lost their resolve to continue, their community can help them brainstorm for solutions and encourage them to continue.
Staying connected has a big impact on patient’s resolve to continue. The more accessible the information, the more likely that patients will access it. In preventative care models, access is key.
This is why information and coaching via technology is so important. It is accessible regardless of location and economic status. And it provides community help and access to health coaching. With the help of their devices, patients can get help anytime, anywhere. In return, clinicians can expect to see greater follow through in preventative care.
Powered by technology
Technology will enable clinicians and healthcare systems to treat the conditions of life. Because patients aren’t bound by a physical location or socioeconomic status, they can better fight and prevent chronic diseases.
Where do you see healthcare 5 years from now?
With a preventative care model like this, healthcare can expect to see less chronic disease and lower costs for healthcare worldwide.
Do you want in? Download our ebook to discover how to build technology-enabled consumer experiences that treat the conditions of life.