On a daily basis I work on health protocols and research to see how we can help others. I also look at wellness, healthy living and technology to see what could work better in different situations. Yet the answer that always comes back to me is; it depends.
For one minute let’s forget about compliance, health reform, electronic records and everything else and concentrate on the basics; quality of life. Of course some people will look at it from the standpoint of the cost of health and how the same continues to increase, yet while we are looking at the possible solutions we forget one basic ingredient; human nature.
So let’s start with the basics which in this case I consider to be the fact that we are social animals. For the most part we like to be in packs and we will pretty much accommodate to the norms of the pack. Therefore, if the pack decides to poison itself chances are that most members of the pack will do it without a second thought. If you don’t believe it try to explain why will anyone smoke and why it is still popular in some countries and not so much in others? What about diet?
The point that I’m trying to make is that technology and sharing of information is great, yet the only way to change behavior is by creating a social structure where the desired population is rewarded and encouraged as a group activity. Most people already know that eating fatty food, smoking and physical and mental inactivity is not good for us yet they continue the same behavior. Even worst is the trend where the lack of money is forcing schools in the USA to shrink and/or close their music and physical education programs. So not only are we moving away from the desired behavior but also are subconsciously telling future generations that this behavior is not encouraged.
So we are not eating right. We are not exercising or stretching. And we love to sit in front of the TV, a computer, video game or even the movies. Also we are expending millions of dollars on computer systems and technology to tell us that we are not doing the right things and monitor our vital signs so we can prove we are not doing the right things. Does this make sense?
In many countries we are talking about health care reform and we look at technology as the answer. I’m not opposed to technology as a tool but why won’t we look at social reform as a key element of this health care equation?
I would like to bring your attention to Miami, Florida as an example of this social element working to enhance the health of the geriatric population. Several organizations that work with seniors have opted to make a visit to the gym a social event. They even provide transportation and exercise classes with music to motivate participation. Some of these facilities are simply receiving payment for healthcare services, yet by providing these services that are not reimbursable they have reduced healthcare costs, increase compliance and member participation.
Therefore as we look at potential solutions to our healthcare costs and accessibility I will consider social reform an integral part of healthcare reform which must be addressed in order to be successful. Also whle I’m at it I will ask you; have you exercised today?