The Future of Health Care is Now – But We Can’t Find It
Why abdicating your health care to employers and insurers can cost you your life?
As a technology geek I enjoy looking for tools and technologies to improve my life. Recently I have been studying the market of new health care technologies and other resources to improve health care. As I started my journey, I began to realize that the technology already exists that that can dramatically improve health care. However, the current health care ecosystem essentially hinders the awareness of and usage of such technologies. The future of health care can be now, but the system is inhibiting consumers from finding and/or utilizing what could be life saving technologies and resources.
I know what I want my health care journey to be. I would imagine I am not different than most others. I want to be healthy and be able to physically do the things I enjoy for as long as possible. However, we all know there are obstacles that get in the way. Things like stress, long winter months, random accidents (I crashed my bike) and then just bad luck, can cause a health event that can set one back. For many Americans life choices causes health issues that are preventable. We all hear the stats on obesity.
In past articles I have referenced that I get regular emails from Jiffy Lube reminding me that my car is due for an oil change, yet I never get an email from my doctor saying I am due for a physical. With all the new technologies in the market, artificial intelligence, apps for all kinds of health conditions, predictive medicine and genetic testing, Teladoc, and more, I wondered if I could create my own health experience to improve and maybe even save my own life. I want to be healthy. I want my doctor to send me a text saying I am due for a physical. I want a system to remind me that I put on too much weight or haven’t exercised enough this week. I want a system checking my health data that may be able to make me aware that something is wrong before I could ever tell on my own. I want all this innovation working for me. And I want someone smart, hopefully my doctor, to have access to my data and care about keeping me healthy rather just treating me when I am sick. I will pay him more to keep me healthy. We can use technology, and data, collaboratively to improve my life.
Believe it or not it is possible to create this environment, today. However, what I have found is that the current system is preventing this better health care world from arriving. For those who go and get it, you can have it. But most are not even looking. This is the problem. What is possible is not being attained.
I saw an interesting statistic last year about keeping New Year’s Resolutions. The most successful people are the ones who tell “nobody”. The reason given was because that being intrinsically motivated will outperform those looking for external motivation. I believe this is the same with health care. If I receive a direct benefit for an action that I decided is important to me, the chance for success would be much higher. This is important as it relates to “finding better health care”.
Why can’t we find it? Our health care system continues to push the accountability for one’s health care away from the consumer/patient. The problem with the health care ecosystem is that it is paternalistic and becoming more paternalistic. Close to 170 million people get their health insurance from their employer and it is the employer who chooses the insurance company. Now, with costs continuing to rise, employers are being forced to get more involved in where employees get their care and the cost of that care. In many cases employers are creating incentives for employees to receive care from one provider versus another. Employers are also trying to intervene in cases where there are chronic conditions or higher cost claimants to try and reduce costs. While all these tactics may be necessary to control costs, this increasingly more paternalistic environment is creating a consumer who is abdicating more and more responsibility to a third-party. The result is a consumer who is not even looking for the tools and resources that may save their lives.
The world exists where I can control all my health care data. Alerts can let me know when the data is telling me something is wrong. Adding data to the system is automated making it easy. The data can be current with Bluetooth and mobile devices uploading information to my online record. New data like genetic testing can possibly tell me if I am more susceptible to certain health conditions. Artificial Intelligence can help identify health issues, but without the data, there isn’t anything to apply the intelligence to. With the data, you can possibly save your life.
It is time to reverse the trend of expanding paternalism to not only control costs but to improve health care. The management of my health care should between me, and whoever I want it to be, which for me is a skilled and caring physician. I don’t want my employer to have it or even have vague information that would help them figure out it is me. (You brokers know what I am talking about). Consumers need to take control of their health care and their health data. To do this, employers need to get out of the way and consumers need to recognize the benefits of their efforts to control their health care. The future of health care is now, and it is getting better and better. To find it you need to want to find it.
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