All the developed economies and more recently in developing economies are debating Affordable Healthcare. Spiraling costs, ageing demographics, more diagnostics and complicated treatments all add to these costs. While big ticket reforms like Obamacare hog most of the limelight in this space, these are also equally controversial as is evident from today’s situation with Obamacare. On the other hand, there are many small initiatives that various countries have taken which are much more subtle and are beginning to show some surprising results.
These small initiatives are mini-steps towards the journey from Healthcare to Wellness Care. So instead of focusing on just the cure, these initiatives look to keep people healthy and avoid them from falling sick or ensuring that they recover properly after a treatment.
Here is a list of such initiatives driven by IT from different parts of the world:
National Steps Challenge in Singapore
Singapore recently launched the National Steps Challenge in which they created an app which was provided to citizens and it had various challenges involved with walking. There were awards and prizes for leveling up and meeting some challenges. Such campaigns have been done by ICT and smart device vendors. But, here is an initiative that was launched by the government of Singapore and pushed and advertised by the government. The success of this was huge and the amount of people who downloaded the app and went about the challenges was significant. The idea behind this was to promote daily walking amongst the citizens to promote better health and thus reduce the incidents of people falling sick.
Check out the details of the initiative at: Season 2 of National Steps Challenge
Trivia: Singapore has life expectancy of 82.5 years. Currently roughly 10% of the population is over 65, but by 2030 it is expected that 20% of the population will be above 65.
Many hospitals world wide are beginning to introduce patient app to help maintain contact with the patients even post the treatment. In this way, the doctors can directly monitor the patients health such as BP, Sugar levels, Cholesterol levels etc. for significant amount of time after the treatment and can check signs for relapses etc. and avoid the need for the patients to come back to the hospital.
The other aspect of the patient app also is that it allows patients to take treatment at local hospitals after a major treatment in a bigger hospital at a distant place. Through the App, the local physician can collaborate with the doctor in the bigger hospital and ensure that the treatment is more in sync to ensure the long term wellness.
Diet Intervention Program
Again this innovation has been launched by Singapore, but is now being taken by other countries. While in the Singapore program the aim was to promote healthier foods through advertising and education, newer ideas emerging include post treatment dietary control. With the above mentioned Patient App, the doctors are able to provide dietary advise to patients for a longer period of time and thus helping the patients recover completely and thus ensure sustained cure and avoid relapses.
Crazy Ideas: Some crazy notions are currently forming such as supermarkets with products that start beeping if their sugar content is too much for your diabetic condition!! Watch out for some of these crazy products coming out.
Home Care for Aged
The biggest consumer of healthcare is the Aged (over 65 years) demographic. Many countries and regions are now trying to figure out how to ensure that the Aged can stay at home with as minimal time at hospitals as an in-patient. This also takes benefit of the patient app or some of the health kits that are now available in a Smartphone to keep track of Vital health statistics and thus proactively track this demographic and thus reduce the costs of healthcare.
Having said all that, the core still seems to be struggle between the volume based business models (which need these people to visit more and more for the profits to accrue) versus the value based business models (which focus on well being instead of people visiting them). Today’s reality is that most healthcare institutions are volume based, while all the governments want it to be value based. The future of Healthcare will be determined by which way the scale tips in this struggle.
(This article has been written based on the views of various speakers and experts at HIMSS 2017)