As America’s healthcare reform shifts towards a focus on population health, we’ve seen a parallel shift in care delivery and compensation models. Value-based care is emphasized and incentivized; provider compensation is tied to not only the quality of care provided, but to the overall health of the patients served. This shift has born innovations in both patient education and care delivery models. However, at the root of it all is preventative medicine.
In fact, the Affordable Care Act has made proactive measures more accessible by requiring certain private health plans to cover specific recommended preventive services without charging a deductible, copayment, or co-insurance. As it relates to population health management, prevention has been identified as a means to not only deliver better care and produce better outcomes, but to also reduce the price tag of caring for complex conditions. Whether it’s weight loss programs, tobacco screening, or workplace wellness initiatives, prevention can reduce the significant economic burden of disease in addition to improving the length and quality of people’s lives.
In today’s environment, more and more providers and insurance companies are focusing on prevention strategies. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a working example. According to U.S. News, YMCA-trained lifestyle coaches administer a one-year, group-based intervention promoting healthy eating and physical activity for individuals with pre-diabetes. Program results found participants lost 5-7 percent of their body weight, significantly reducing their likelihood of developing type-2 diabetes. This data incentivized 30 different commercial health plans to cover the cost of the YMCA program because the costs of the program were far less than the cost of covering a diabetic patient.
In addition, the global preventive healthcare technologies and services market is expected to reach $432.4 billion by 2024, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. Key factors driving the market expansion include the growing awareness about preventive measures.
As more healthcare organizations seek to create, improve, and offer preventive care programs for their patient populations, it will be interesting to see how our nation’s healthcare system as a whole, improves. After all, when we invest in population health, the benefits are broadly shared.