We have entered a new health age in this early part of the 21st century. Humanity and particularly Americans are entering a new time of medical miracles and health care. The thinking, delivery and economics of medicine and health care are changing and these changes will be accelerating in the next few years.
In the United States, the discussion about health care has largely been driven by fear, misinformation and manipulated by politicians. Any discussion driven by these three forces is not an intelligent one. That is why Jonathan Fleece and I have written “The New Health Age: The Future of Health Care in America”. We wanted to write a book that would bring intelligence and understanding to the conversation about the future of health care in America. As the quotes here show, this book is already being called THE book to read to better understand, and feel comfortable about the future landscape of health care in America.
Most people don’t realize that modern medicine is about 150 years old. In 1865 Louis Pasteur identified germs as a significant cause of disease. The Band-Aid was invented in 1920, penicillin in 1928 and the first flu vaccine in 1948. Cat scans were first used in the late 1970s. So modern medicine is recent and is undergoing constant breakthroughs. The current and soon to come medical miracles will usher in this New Health Age and will change how we think of both medicine and health care.
So to break through the stupid, politically manipulated current discussion about health care in this country during an election year it is important to understand some basic concepts.
-Health care costs are out of control. We have all heard the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. We have had a health care system that is largely based upon the pound of cure. Prevention is now becoming a dominant theme moving us to an ounce of prevention model.
-There are some 18,000 codes for procedures that physicians use to get paid. There is not a single code for payment on keeping a patient healthy. That is about to change. Primary care physicians, the ones who know the patient best, will become central to the new health care delivery system and will actually get paid for doing what they are supposed to do, keep their patients healthy
-One third of all American adults are obese and two thirds are overweight.
-70% of all American health care costs are incurred by 10% of the population. Most of these people suffer from afflictions due to obesity as it leads to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and joint disease. Successfully treat 1% and we lower total health care costs by 7%
-The average cost to a company for the health care of an employee is $12,000. That is one of the reasons why American companies are not globally competitive. We are the only developed nation in the world without a universal health care system. This means that America companies have a higher cost structure than their global competitors. This is one of the reasons that health care reform has finally happened; America has lost a lot of its global competitive edge.
-Health care represents almost 18% of America’s GDP. All of the technology driven innovation we have come to accept in the 80% of the GDP is now coming to health care. Digital records, search, connectivity, convenience, efficiency and the ability to compare performance, all things we now demand in the rest of our lives are now coming to health care. It is almost that simple. The medical profession and health care delivery are now about to catch up to how we expect the rest of the marketplace and economy to operate. Open markets, competition, cost benefit analysis, the power of the free market to both increase quality and drive down costs. All of this is now coming to health care. Health will increase and, after a short transition period, costs will go down.
I will be writing more columns here about the New Health Age as it is such an exciting time.
Welcome to the New Health Age!