What the (healthcare) world needs now: Simple answers

By Chowning Johnson on October 27th, 2016

While healthcare is rife with problems—certainly not saying anything new—is it possible that we are a few simple steps away from improvement? I wish I 1) could answer this question and foresee the future, but 2) could actually assert an emphatic yes, but it’s complicated. That said, recent conversations and news give me hope that at least in senior care we seem to be moving toward a mini breakthrough. Take these three examples:

  1. A handyman can work wonders: Forbes recently highlighted a program that Johns Hopkins School of Nursing launched around aging in place. The simple approach centered on identifying what seniors need to live more independently at home and filling those gaps. In fact, it only took three people for the participants to see improvements in their independence: a nurse, occupational therapist and handyman. To boot, across five months the average cost per person was only $2,800—equivalent to one week in a nursing home. Now how do we convince people that this straightforward thinking has tremendous legs and operationalize it?
  2. Nurses to the rescue: Johns Hopkins University researchers, at it again, created the Guided Care Model in 2001. The model focuses on improving outcomes and reducing spending in healthcare through better managing the care of at-risk seniors with multiple chronic conditions. The real driver behind the program—now licensed and leveraged by a growing number of health systems—centers on registered nurses reviewing patient needs, teaching patients and caregivers how to manage against a personalized care plan and monitoring patients over time (helping with referrals, community resources, etc.). Looking at each patient’s needs holistically, not just clinically, seems to be a significant factor of success as did the longevity of the commitment to each patient.
  3. Shifting wearables from millennials to seniors: When it comes to technology-enabled insights, alerts, etc. the answer may not be quite as straightforward. However, it is clear that wearable technological advancements can aide in keeping chronic conditions at bay, or at least managed effectively; alerting providers on health changes; reminding patients to take medications; and more. Wearable tech is booming as noted in this TechCrunch article (e.g. clothing with airbags in case of falls) and will perhaps start focusing less on millennials and instead on the tremendous need for aging Americans trying to live longer, healthier lives at home.

Now, if we can get everyone to work together—consolidate and compare thinking and successes—perhaps we can create a win for the U.S. health system when one is so greatly needed. What companies and organizations do you know that are making an impact here?

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