Archive for April, 2010

Two Health Models

April 16th, 2010

How can we talk more about creating health and wellness rather than how to pay for sickness?  I was struck recently when someone pointed out that if the healthcare debate was about cars, we’d be focusing on who and how to pay for car crashes rather than how to prevent them.  And we’d be telling ourselves or distracted enough to think that those changes would keep us safer in cars?

Rather than continue that debate, I’d like to point out two interesting models I’ve seen recently:

Cleveland Clinic.   In an interview with the head of Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Cosgrove, he mentioned two amazing facts:  “Three things — smoking, diet, and lack of exercise — cause 40% of premature deaths in the U.S. They contribute to 70% of the chronic diseases, things like emphysema and heart disease. And that’s 75% of the cost of health care” and he talks about corporate wellness initiatives this way “the ROI is probably 3 to 1: For every dollar invested, you get three back in terms of employees being better.”  (BTW, thanks to Dean for pointing this out to me.)  An amazing suggestion for how we can dramatically improve our wellness.  Suggests that companies can play an important role here, especially if they are self-insured or otherwise paying for healthcare.  Here is what Cleveland Clinic did:

One thing we’ve done across the Cleveland Clinic is say, ‘Look, we need to give our employees and patients the right foods.’ So we took trans fats out of all our foods. We took the fryers out of all our cafeterias. We took the candy bars out. We took the pop out of the vending machines. And then we said, ‘Let’s work on the other end of it. Let’s let people get exercise.’

So we gave free Curves memberships, free Weight Watchers memberships, free access to our gyms, pedometers to our employees. In the first year they lost 120,000 pounds….

First we said, ‘No smoking on our campus.’ Then we offered all employees free smoking-cessation classes. Then we went out and pushed hard for a law banning smoking in public places in Ohio, which got passed. Then we offered free smoking cessation to everybody in Cuyahoga County, where the Cleveland Clinic is. Then we stopped hiring smokers…

How would you feel if your employer did the same?  That they were caring for you or would you not want that kind of help?

Hello Health.   Watch this 3+ min video on how information technology can transform a doctor’s practice.  For most patients, the critical work can be accomplished via secure email, IM or video chat.  With online scheduling and electronic medical records, there is less administrative overhead and less cost.   Wonderful to see IT finally being adopted like this.