Could using our brains transform our healthcare delivery?

How to best deliver health care is the perennial question yet to be answered satisfactorily. Our current health care method incorporating hospitals, doctors and allied staff appears an ever-enlarging black hole sucking in money as costs continue to spiral ever upwards. However, pouring more money in has failed in either meeting the costs blow out or producing the desired health outcomes. Politicians speak a lot about it, but their policies for reform and improvement have yet to demonstrate any real positive change.

Is it now time to stop and ask the question? What do we expect from our health system and if the system we have is failing us, should we be looking to do things differently?

We can always learn from mistakes, but if we are continuing to make the same mistakes over and over and expect a different outcome, surely all we have achieved is to create a habit.

In an article called “Transforming Healthcare Delivery” published in “Strategy and Business” the authors Choudhury, Kapur and Saxena ask this question and suggest that the stakeholders i.e. the taxpayers like you and me who pay the bills and provide the care need to collaborate. This is not rocket science, yet their discussion reveals how hard this has been so far to achieve.

In visualising a collaborative vision the authors discuss delivery, payment and consumer engagement. It is this latter part, which I think provides the key. Getting people to become involved in their own health care and taking responsibility to maintain their health and well being to the best of their ability.

Employers are now more commonly involved in consumer engagement. Many have already put in place plans that offer employees incentives to improve their health: by joining a gym, a weight loss program or to quit smoking. Employers have long recognised the benefits to their business of keeping their staff well and physically healthy as it reduces the costs associated with sick leave, absenteeism and presenteeism.

These efforts are likely to continue and expand in future healthcare reforms. Bringing wellness programs to the workplace where they are easily accessible and affordable or even free to staff members. Keeping well reduces costs to the healthcare system by reducing the number of those who become sick and require healthcare services.

But this needs to be taken further beyond just physical health and to incorporate brain health. It is now recognised that maintaining optimal brain health leads to greater efficiency and productivity in the workplace. Increasing levels of engagement, focus, and employee happiness surely means that providing both physical and brain health programs becomes a no-brainer.

Brain science has already provided the information and back up to show that lifestyle interventions make a huge difference in cognitive functioning. It is surely only a matter of time before more businesses and organisations routinely include brain fitness programs into their health and wellness programs as part of the wider healthcare reforms.

Our current healthcare system modelled on treating the sick is unsustainable. Prevention and maintaining good health is an obvious way forward and taking the prevention reforms into society and the workplace has to be a logical step forward.

What do you think?