Myths, Milestones, and Trends in the Healthcare Sector
BCLC sees a major public perception gap between how the health sector is viewed and what companies actually do to invest in and promote health and wellness solutions.
What we saw in 2012, and will likely continue in 2013, is a shift to wellness and prevention strategies as individuals take more control of their own health. In the past, doctor visits were often associated with an illness or injury. Now, regular checkups are highly encouraged, incentivized, and becoming more common than in the past. Businesses are playing an increasing role and helping their employees stay fit and healthy through workplace wellness initiatives, smoking cessation programs, and fitness opportunities. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) indicates that businesses spend approximately $220 per employee on wellness programs.
Despite these positive contributions, health organizations rank #15 out of 16 sectors in the 2012 Confidence in Institutions ranking poll by Gallup. How can a sector that is improving so much be ranked so low?
It is evident that the positive contribution these organizations are providing is not understood by stakeholders. Why? Is it a matter of scale, awareness and education? Is it how the issue of health and wellness is being discussed? Furthermore, the sector as a whole faces a lot of myths and misconceptions from stakeholders:
- Individuals are under the impression that the healthcare industry is driven by the profit motive, is unaccountable, and ignores the consumer needs when it comes to providing information.
- Hospitals are blamed for not providing patients with enough information to make informed medical decisions.
- The healthcare delivery system is criticized as being inefficient and ineffective, resulting in massive resource waste and lost opportunities to improve health outcomes.
- The U.S. pharmaceutical industry is under fire for spending more per capita than any other developed nation. Perceptions also include marginal effectiveness, frequently failing to produce positive outcomes, and adversity to patient health.
- Health insurance companies are criticized for the amounts of paperwork and documentation that is structured more towards the needs of third-party payers than those of the specific clinician treating the patient.
It is important to understand why and how perceptions in the healthcare industry are shaped and what can be done to educate stakeholders. First, take note of some positive healthcare trends that have developed:
- Technology has paved the way for a better overall healthcare system, providing a more efficient and effective experience between consumers, healthcare providers, insurers, and healthcare and wellness through electronic records systems, online reporting tools, and apps.
- A renewed focus has been placed on chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes from both the public and private sectors. Chronic diseases account for nearly 70% of all deaths in the U.S. according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
- Through awareness campaigns and workplace wellness programs, businesses have helped employees and the public take more responsibility for their own health.
- Public private partnerships continue to form and thrive.
In conversations with many companies, it is clear that in 2013, the trend will continue that businesses play an active role in developing innovative products and services on a number of levels such as disease management, wellness, medical devices, etc. As a critical mass of awareness about and use of these products in the marketplace develops, the business community should have increasing leverage to dispel some of the myths and negative perceptions that exist.