Money should never be a driver of care practice and quality, but in today’s healthcare ecosystem, it certainly is a consideration for many. It’s no secret that healthcare is a $3 trillion dollar market. Payers, providers and practitioners know that costs need to drop and fast.
Changing the Way We Think About Health and Sickness
Part of the problem lies in how patients think about health and sickness. Take for example a 26-year-old-man. He wakes up in the morning, eats a light breakfast and hydrates throughout the day. A few times a week he exercises. Health for this individual is assumed — as long as there are no outward manifestations of pain or illness.
Now say this man woke up one morning with an acute pain in his chest. He’d felt it before, but nothing of this magnitude. Only now does the man go to the doctor. In his appointment, he is forced to trace backward in his mind to identify the exact dates and times he had felt semblances of this pain before. In the high-stress situation where his discomfort is mounting by the minute, this task is difficult.
Consider this, what if the man instead logged his daily health in an app taking special care to note oddities. Now faced with a critical situation the stress to mentally review and categorize his health is removed. His interaction with his doctor is calmer, and together they can more accurately identify the problem. This represents one reality — brought to us by wellness apps.
Assessing the Imperative for Preventative Health
Replace that healthy man with one who lives with diabetes or seizures. Suddenly the imperative for preventative health is more real, especially considering 86 percent of healthcare spending was used by people with one or more chronic conditions. Besides the economic cost, there’s the human toll as well. Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Approximately half of the United States’ population lives with a chronic illness ranging from heart disease to diabetes to AIDS along with other “conditions classified by the medical community as preventable,” according to PublicHealth.org.
Treating patients retroactively for chronic conditions that developed after years of poor habits is costly, and often, ineffective. Habits have formed, and they can be all but impossible to shake — like not finishing a piece of pepperoni pizza halfway through the slice. Now imagine if you hadn’t taken that first bite.
That’s exactly how many employers, payers and providers are viewing the potential for wellness and, more importantly, wellness technology. Wellness portals, apps and solutions have the ability to engage users at the very top of the funnel when they are most responsive to behavioral changes that drive down costs, prevent chronic conditions and ultimately save lives.
Preventative health doesn’t just correlate with chronic condition avoidance. It has been shown to markedly increase life expectancy, especially among 30- to 49-year olds.
To shift the paradigm in healthcare — treating patients retroactively — patients, physicians and providers must adopt a new mindset, one that revolves around and keeps actionable preventative health top of mind. In this pursuit, there’s no question. Health portals and wellness apps matter more now than ever before.