Healthcare professional Jane Sarasohn-Kahn of THINK-Health recently published a CHCF (California Healthcare Foundation) paper entitled, “Primary Care, Everywhere: Connecting the Dots Across the Emerging Healthcare Landscape.” The paper addresses today’s evolving landscape as we ready for an influx of millions of new patients into a system of traditional, primary care providers that can’t possibly provide adequate services to meet the rising demand. Sarasohn-Kahn offers insights into many innovations and technologies that are currently in place (or on the horizon) that will help offer a more holistic, connected healthcare experience for consumers as opposed to the isolated, traditional approach of services taking place only through hospitals, clinics and doctor offices.
Particularly, the paper notes the importance of technology and innovations giving consumers more access and participation to empower them about their healthcare, clearly a familiar theme that this blog continually champions.
At the beginning, the author offers a quote from Surgeon General Regina Benjamin that literally sums up how healthcare must evolve for an efficient, effective and healthier America: “We can’t look at health in isolation. It’s got to be where we live, we work, we play, we pray.”
Although focused on California, the paper is a must-read for anyone in today’s healthcare market, and it comprehensively addresses the current situation, innovative options and possible solutions, as well as barriers to reaching success within the current system.
A few summary bullets of note from the paper:
• Millions of new patients will bombard our system; Demand will outpace services;
• Primary care physicians are in decline; primary doctors are retiring and not enough new physicians are choosing primary as their medical disciplines;
• As a result, access has declined; ¾ adults can’t see their primary in time;
• 65M live in areas with barriers to accessing primary care;
• Results in increased visits to ERs; or just declining chronic health issues due to no action;
• Must re-think traditional healthcare settings to offer a more holistic, innovative experience incorporating a consumer’s many touch points and environments regardless of location;
• Innovations, retail clinics/services, technology, self-help tools, etc., are needed
The paper goes on to note several trends behind the reshaping of the primary care landscape to help our current healthcare system, including the importance of retail and clinic locations aimed to provide better access for consumers in locations across America. Consider this eye-opening fact: We could have a $4.4B annual savings for diverting ER care to retail or clinics for healthcare services and/or visits.
The paper also notes the following: “Only a fraction of patients fully engage in supporting their health, but when they do, research shows they use health services more efficiently and have better health outcomes.”
At SoloHealth, we believe 100% that empowering consumers with access and knowledge to their healthcare numbers and data will lead to positive action. And just as the author notes, we see everyday innovations and solutions that will help tap into this power.
SoloHealth is anchored by our comprehensive health screening kiosk the SoloHealth Station, which has a primary goal of providing consumers with health and wellness awareness and education to empower them take healthcare into their own hands. Our entire business model revolves around how technology can propel today’s “self-service” consumer towards a healthier lifestyle and ultimately a healthier and more economical healthcare system.
The paper concludes on a few “barriers to innovation” within the current system including healthcare financing, labor force shortage, public policy, regulations, barriers to technological advancements, low levels of consumer engagement and more. Although we must address all these barriers holistically to adequately meet tomorrow’s challenges, I want to highlight the consumer engagement factor.
According to Sarasohn-Kahn, three quarters of healthcare spending in the U.S.—over $2.2 trillion—goes to address chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease and cancer. A majority of these can be addressed through lifestyle changes like proper eating, exercise, quitting smoking and other behavior modifications. But a large percentage of adults affected simply aren’t educated and aware of them to properly address the health and wellness issues associated.
Imagine if all these people had a free and easy mechanism to test, learn and react to their healthcare data. We strongly believe, and research supports it, that they would be propelled to act. But first they need the access and information. We at SoloHealth believe in pushing this concept forward every day. And healthcare advocates like Jane Sarasohn-Kahn and hundreds others are leading the charge to help us get there.
I speak not only as a healthcare executive but as a father of two who desires his children to inherit a healthy and highly functional American healthcare system, not the current situation that is on a head-on collision with failure. Together, pushing innovative solutions, we’ll make a healthier and more efficient for America.