We are in a midst of a crisis in the US. Over 130 million Americans live with a chronic disease. Obesity has become an epidemic - 40% of Americans are obese, 24% of all Americans have at least one diet-related medical condition, 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes, and over 70 million have hypertension. Most of us consume too much fast food and junk food, spend hours daily on our screens, lead largely sedentary lives which have become increasingly stressful, and then deplete our savings on healthcare when we retire battling heart failure, diabetes and other complications that arise from our lifestyle.
We have it a bit backwards. We spend low-single digit percentages on prevention while many of our peer countries commit much more and yet our OECD peers spend significantly less money on healthcare overall. We spend 3-4x our global peers on sick care, spending 18% of our GDP on healthcare. We should be committing more resources toward prevention rather than reactive medicine.
How Do We Break The Cycle?
We need to invest in people’s health while these chronic conditions are avoidable or reversible, particularly those forms of cardio-metabolic syndrome like diabetes and hypertension that are heavily influenced by lifestyle.
Self-insured employers are also interested in fixing this problem to increase the productivity of their workforce. As a result, 89% of employers offer a wellness program and 60% offer condition management services. Medicare is aggressively pushing to a value-based care model for 50% of healthcare by 2018 and reimbursing for services like the diabetes prevention program (DPP). When Medicare moves on payment, others follow. Healthcare payers and providers are investing in population health efforts that focus on preventing costly medical problems and improving the overall health of their populations.
Call To Action
Together let’s improve our happiness, our health, and our productivity as a nation by preventing and reversing chronic conditions. We have a financial and moral imperative to solve this problem. If we act now, we could likely cut $1 trillion of health spend and improve our productivity as a nation.
New service platforms that pair coaching with clinical programs work. At Vida, for example, we have helped people reverse conditions such as pre-diabetes, diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea, enabling them to go off their diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure medications.
How do we do it? Within our mobile platform, we match everyone with a health coach, we provide evidence-based clinical programs for chronic conditions such as the DPP, and we collect health data (claims data, medication data, biometric data, device data, etc.) to create a very personalized approach. We meet people where they are at and then help them evolve to meet their health goals. Reversing these conditions enables people to save money, spend more time with their families, and overall enjoy life more.
As the new healthcare bill goes to the House, now is the time for our leaders in Congress to create incentives for employers, insurance companies and consumers to support programs for wellness and
Editor's Note: Stephanie spoke at the recent Splash Health, Wellness & Wearables 2017 conference.
Thanks to the Vator Splash Health sponsors: Advsr, AARP, Avison Young, Bread and Butter Wine, Surf Air, Stratpoint and Scrubbed.
(Image source: evidencenetwork.ca)