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Preventive Medicine: Controlling the Nation’s Healthcare Cost Epidemic

Joey Gaspero

As defined by the American College of Preventive Medicine, preventive medicine focuses on the health of individuals, communities, and defined populations. The overarching goal of preventive medicine is to protect, promote, and maintain our health and well-being and to prevent disease, disability, and death. It is important to take these measures to ensure our nation is utilizing all available resources to promote preventive medicine because healthcare costs are continuing to rise to unsustainable numbers, and future projections are only getting worse.

As U.S. citizens, we may believe the value of the U.S. healthcare infrastructure is second to none. However, Larry Merlo, President and CEO of CVS Health, believes otherwise. In a recent article, Merlo states that the U.S. is still in the infant stages of implementing the necessary healthcare changes and innovations that will significantly reduce these seemingly endless healthcare costs (Winston-Salem Journal, February 2015). Although the healthcare industry has been moving in the right direction and has some great achievements in healthcare over the last few years, consumers and employers alike continue to find themselves tangled in a “cost-quality-access conundrum”.

So, what is it that makes up this seemingly never-ending conundrum? Merlo says that over $300 billion dollars are spent on avoidable and unnecessary health-care expenses every year (Winston-Salem Journal, February 2015). In addition to the recent cessation of cigarette sales at CVS stores, Merlo believes that in order to start reducing these unsustainably high costs, health organizations must implement “whole-body” evaluations. These are an effort to reduce people’s time in their doctor’s office, as well as their money spent.

Although there will always be analysts reporting the exact dollar amount of money saved (or lost) in regards to the healthcare and preventive medicine, one thing is for certain, when consumers commit to taking control and responsibility of their healthcare, the U.S. can make significant strides towards improvements in healthcare innovations. Not only will they save themselves time and money, they will be keep themselves as healthy as possible.

Additionally, preventive medicine has implications for not-only patients, but also the other healthcare stakeholders – including payers, pharma, and policymakers. And other trends such as capitation payment models, informed and empowered patients, the proliferation of ACOs, and consumer driven healthcare all have dramatic implications and are driving the shift from a fee-for-service to a value-based healthcare model. This paradigm shift will fundamentally change the way we view healthcare value, including quality, access, and costs. Please check back for more blog posts, as CHI will be exploring healthcare value in more depth in the coming months.

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Joey Gaspero

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