Our health-care system is in crisis. Despite decades of national attention, fierce political battles and trillions in spending each year on health care, the state of our overall national health continues to decline.
The U.S. health-care system focuses heavily on disease treatment—we use the majority of our resources to regain our well-being once we have lost it. We devote far less effort, both as a society and as individuals, to preventative care—achieving and maintaining our good health. Much of the current crisis stems from lifestyle-related diseases. Over 33% of adults are obese and that number has more than doubled since 1980.1 Nearly one in 10 adults has diabetes2 and if current trends continue, one in three adults is projected to have diabetes by 20503. These and other lifestyle-related diseases are correlated with two risk factors that have reached epidemic status in the United States: physical inactivity and poor diet (Figure 1).
Our neglect of wellness management, combined with an aging population, has led to what is now a truly unsustainable model. The problem is broader than just cost. If left unchecked, this crisis will impact our quality of life, whether we are patients navigating the system ourselves or taxpayers financing the economic burden of the chronically ill. Correcting this problem demands a transformation of the concept of health care: protecting health, rather than salvaging it. To achieve this, health-care consumers must become proactive managers of their wellness.
As consultants working in the health-care space, we have a point of view and an outlook on how we can contribute to this change. Part of that commitment will be ensuring that consumers feel empowered to engage in their wellness, make decisions that improve their overall health, and prevent or manage chronic disease. Throughout 2015, we will be publishing a series of blog posts, in which we examine the new era of consumerization—how and why consumers are behaving differently, which stakeholders are enabling this change and what it means for the health-care industry. We’d love your feedback along the way, so subscribe and add a comment or shoot us an e-mail with your perspective!