St. Louis, MO (December 5, 2017) – Debate swirls around healthcare politics and policy. But there is little or no debate about one thing: Behavior change is the best lever to improve our population’s health and reduce medical costs. From better eating habits and overall nutrition; frequency and intensity of workout activity; and ample, sound sleep, to maintaining doctor visits and medication – improving health-related behaviors is the cornerstone of proactive health and healthcare cost management.
A February 15, 2017 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services report, “2016-2025 Projections of National Health Expenditure Data Released,” stated that total health spending reached nearly $3.4 trillion in 2016: a 4.8 percent increase from 2015. The same report cited 5.4 percent growth anticipated for 2017, due to the rise in private health insurance spending. With the increase of healthcare costs expected to average 5.8 percent from 2018 to 2025 (attributed to Medicare and Medicaid), it makes sense to look at the root causes of chronic conditions, to proactively educate members how to help curtail a disease’s onset, and thereby reduce the cost of care.
Type 2 diabetes is a prime example of the need to find better ways to change health behavior. It also makes the case for both health plans and government policy-makers to be aligned in the fight. Diabetes rates are fueled by obesity and lack of exercise. And once diabetes is diagnosed, the impact on health and cost is heavily dependent on compliance with required testing, eye and foot examinations, and the like – and improved weight management and exercise are still critical. The 2017 CDC stats showed 30.3 million Americans living with diabetes and 84.1 million with prediabetes in 2015 alone. The diagnosis rate of diabetes has been growing steadily. Every 19 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes. And the annual medical costs of a diabetic are 2.3 times higher than the rest of the population.
In the face of these challenges, traditional disease management approaches are inadequate. Traditional health education by mail and by phone is not enough. In order to have real impact, it’s not enough that we tell people generally that they need to change their habits to get better. We must invest in a richer understanding of the individual and their unique needs through continuous, adaptive engagement, interaction, and intervention that offers real-world, real-time teachable moments.
The Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change™ is looking for new ways to help people prevent and manage diabetes. We are finding ways to understand how parents and children together can work to reduce obesity and disease to break the cycle of intergenerational obesity and diabetes. We are examining how peers can help coach and mentor.
And the Center is building models that assess and understand individuals as whole persons – persons whose health is shaped not only by their own heredity and lifestyle, but also by social determinant barriers, from financial issues to neighborhood safety, and social standing – factors that can impact not only health conditions, but also access to and quality of care.
We know that people make mistakes, and don’t always make the right decision in their own best interests, especially when it comes to their health. It’s the need to help them change behavior, to improve their health and reduce costs, that drives our work. We’re all only human, but with some help, we can all also be much healthier.
John Porter – Vice President, Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change
As the Vice President of Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change, John Porter also oversees the behavior change product portfolio for Envolve PeopleCare. John has over 25 years of global experience in healthcare and health management, including work with providers, insurers, and policymakers.
More on the Envolve Center…
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