A new report from advertising giant McCann reveals several insights on shifting attitudes toward health from an attitude shift away from doctors having the biggest impact on wellness to a stronger sense of personal responsibility. It also highlighted the role of data and medtech in our lives.
New wellness ecosystem: There is a shift under way from the doctor being central to our wellness to ourselves. Personal responsibility seems to be a growing mantra. And although we’re not exactly fending for ourselves in the near future, doctors will be only one aspect of our wellness. Pharmacists will play a bigger role; so will technology, from online diagnostic tools to healthcare social media.
Doctors have an important role to play: Although responsibility might be shifting away from doctors alone, they aren’t going to be replaced by technology anytime soon. And that’s not just because 21 percent of consumers surveyed as part of this report said that. If we didn’t need doctors why would telemedicine be such a huge area of expansion? It’s because examining a patient and talking to him, and addressing his concerns is an experience that requires more than a robot or interactive computer program to understand and process. Technology is imperfect because it’s designed by people who are also imperfect.
Brands could make wellness more fashionable: The most successful companies will design wellness into every aspect of what they do. The report uses L’Oréal as an example, but it could easily apply to any healthcare company as well. It points out that by developing an app for the XBox 360, L’Oréal consumers could customize their experiences and receive tailored beauty product recommendations as well as unique how-to content and video tutorials. Customized content is a key area that several healthcare entrepreneurs are developing.
Impact of data capture: The more data people have about their wellness the more in control they will feel of their lives and their ability to track when they get better and when they get sick. Data capture will make us more self-aware of our health. As Unity Stoakes, co-founder and partner for StartUp Health, observes that by holding onto a steering wheel of a car, data can be collected on your stress level and heart rate. “We’ll have a better understanding of what’s keeping us healthy and what’s making us sick.”
Optimal age for wellness? Leafing through the executive summary of The Truth About Wellness, my eyes landed on one insight that made me shiver: The optimal age to “achieve wellness” is 34. To be honest, that was news to me. It’s useful information that healthcare entrepreneurs can use in developing products for a younger audience to help them achieve the necessary goals to get to this point. But before I could get too depressed, it quickly added that the optimum age for achieving wellness in Turkey is 23 and in Japan it’s 44. Nice sensible country, Japan. It also points out that women can achieve wellness more easily than men. I’d say that’s debatable.
I don't know where to begin to cite where this article is not only mistaken, but completely wrong. The shift from the doctor to the individual is one of personal responsibility?! Sure, if you call being mandated to buy health insurance or pay a fine. But just remember this: having health insurance only grants one access to a network of doctors and hospitals; and they still have to pay for the services when they use it. And the further growth into Medicaid is going to boom when those who can't afford the higher premiums and costs associated with the new laws only shifts control of what care one may receive to the government. The largest growth in government that very well may surpass Homeland Security which was necessary following 9/11. Doctors have an important role to play? Since when was a physician not important? And the increase burden in regulations has caused doctors to retire early rather than deal with more costs associated with the new rules and regulations. Bad enough for some who do accept Medicaid patients that may receive at best about 60% of the actual cost -- that alone has seen many doctors and hospitals to refuse Medicaid patients. The Mayo clinic in AZ (I believe) stopped accepting the Medicaid program when the government was over six months in arrears in payment owed. And Illinois had its own plan under the former-now incarcerated-governor Rod Blagojevich that offered health care for the uninsured children in the state. When doctors and hospitals were not being paid by the state, they began to drop the program. I have no idea where this article was going with 'brands' or 'branding.' Is the author aware of the current issues over the Insurance exchanges in CA and IL? Health care companies are dropping out of such exchanges due to the cost being too great to do business. In IL they were hoping that 16 companies would be participating in the 'exchange,' and it turns out to be only five with one company poised to drop out based on the same reasons that CA presents. As for data, noting WebMD being available has produced a conundrum where individuals may find themselves "thinking" they're sick, and that results in too many office visits to the doctor's or the ER. It's good to have information available for people to read and learn from. It's a whole different picture when people begin to use that information to self-diagnose themselves. And lastly, regardless of the 'optimal age' and the point to be made is moot. Young people feel well and don't believe they need to be paying the high insurance premium costs. They'll opt to pay the fine; and that will shift the greater costs upon the rest of the people who are part of the network. Government really dropped the ball as they shifted the power and control (money) from Insurance companies to the government; instead of empowering the individual with Roth-IRA like HSA's... and improving regulations of doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals... along with curbing the costs and fees associated with providing health care (never addressing tort reforms and outrageous insurance premiums that doctors have to pay). As one politician was quoted saying: "this is a train wreck waiting to happen."