Creating the ‘New Healthcare’ — Should we blow it up and start from scratch

by James DiGiorgio

Part 3 of 3

Almost 50% of healthcare expenditures in the U.S. are incurred by the sickest 5% of citizens. Almost 80% of healthcare expenditures are spent on chronic conditions. By focusing on care and lifestyle changes for these citizens, hopefully we can achieve a higher level of health status for these groups. It will require coordination of resources including health systems, community resources and payers.

Also, in parallel, instead of treating disease, as a society we can make a significant impact on improving health and reducing costs by focusing on improving the health of citizens.

By focusing on health instead of treating disease, as a society we can try to make a significant impact on improving health, reducing disease — particularly related to lifestyle — and reducing costs.

One approach is to educate — and motivate — citizens about achieving health through healthy lifestyles. Start early within our education system and teach children how to make the choices that will allow them to live healthy lives and how that affects their overall health. To emphasize this approach and support it, establish clinics within schools. School based health centers are an approach being utilized in Cincinnati, OH by the Cincinnati Health Department and in Grand Rapids, MI through a collaboration between Cherry Health (FQHC), Grand Rapids Public Schools and Spectrum Health.

Education activities will need help from everyday reinforcement and practice. Employers are implementing wellness program. How can we support those initiatives with more research on what is most effective in motivating employees to change and adopt lifestyle changes? Social determinants of health are becoming more recognized as having significant impact on overall health. Some health systems like Geisinger’s Fresh Food Pharmacy and Boston Medical Center piloting a program in partnership with city and local groups to offer housing vouchers to those without stable housing options. And United Health Care has invested millions of dollars in building affordable housing along with support services such as a local grocery store.

As we head to Health:Further in August in Nashville, let’s bring some new ideas with us to share with our colleagues as we connect with them in the one of the best environments for brainstorming new ideas to reinvent our approach to good health.