Sunday, May 13, 2012

Key challenge of our era: health and preventive medicine

Delivering health care and keeping populations healthy is a key problem of the current era. Health expenditures currently comprise 17% of U.S. GDP and are growing; simultaneously health in the U.S. is in decline, with a new CDC report estimating that by 2030, 42% of American adults will be obese, compared to 34% today and 11% will be severely obese, compared to 6% today.

The Realization of Preventive Medicine
A key part of addressing health challenges is the realization of preventive medicine. Preventive medicine and health maintenance consist of identifying and managing conditions in the 80% of their life cycle before they become clinical, ideally avoiding clinical onset. Workable models for the execution of preventive medicine need to be developed. By definition, a broader ecosystem than the traditional medical establishment will be participating in all steps of the value chain ranging from health research to clinical delivery. More flexible regulatory models are needed that preserve the core ethical principles of the traditional models, but are geared towards the internet era and an expanded notion of health and health maintenance with a larger ecosystem of service providers and participants. The payments ecosystem needs to adapt in parallel, allowing for a wider range of payment mechanisms including out-of-pocket payments, H.S.A. dollars, patient advocacy group funding, and traditional (and increasingly diminishing) insurance payments.

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