We talk about prevention and lifestyle change, but what does it actually entail?
Prevention means eating healthfully, exercising, getting quality sleep, decreasing stress, enjoying meaningful relationships and managing finances. These all deserve a slice of the wellness pie and are known to be cost-effective strategies for reducing our chances of getting chronic disease or the progression of these burdensome conditions. We know this much.
Our healthcare system can’t support the sickcare model any longer. It’s time to stop talking about prevention. We need to do something. Something large scale, innovative and sustainable. And, we need to do it right now.
Healthcare providers and patients alike are struggling in the follow through of prevention. Take the most talented and dedicated provider and the most motivated patient and throw in the reality of busy schedules and limitations of the current health care model (a complex reimbursement system to list just one). The patient struggles to make lasting lifestyle change. The provider is not able to be engaged in a way that’s ideal for a true partnership and solid results. The patient knows what to do, they just don’t do it for very long. The provider knows what to tell the patient but the process is reminiscent of a broken record. It’s rare that anything gets accomplished. It’s a waste of time and resources for both sides.
Many patients believe they have to be “sick” to see a provider. What if we attacked the prevention puzzle with a technology that allowed for patient/provider video visits, especially when the patient is doing (dare I say it) well? Can you imagine how much healthier (and happier) we’d be? For example, the patient schedules his own 15-20 minute visit once a week with his provider to stay on top of incremental personalized goals. This type of accountability is crucial to decrease weight, blood pressure and blood sugar instead of relying on the more traditional in-person visit every 3-6 months with periodic success, occasional data and a hefty dose of frustration. The in-person visit is still very important, but why not choose Telehealth for more frequent follow-up visits? What’s more, this type of relationship will likely enhance the efficiency of the periodic in-person visits.
I recently started working for a Telehealth startup company in New York called Fruit Street Health. Fruit Street provides a software platform that enables dietitians, physicians and other healthcare providers to see their patients virtually in a HIPAA-compliant/secure way and links with wearable devices and mobile apps to deliver realtime data. Fruit Street software makes prevention truly actionable.
We need to bridge to prevention gap. Technology that allows for engagement and collaboration on both sides is key and underscores why WELLcare is just as important in healthcare. Providers and patients both need to advocate for the wellcare model by supporting Telehealth technology.
Telehealth is here. It’s time for all of us to execute. Who’s ready?