A Fortune 500 retail company is known for its innovative employee healthcare offerings. It surprised market observers by managing to keep its healthcare cost flat from 2005 to 2009. The company realized that 70% of its healthcare costs were the result of lifestyle patterns, and 74% of these costs could be attributed to four largely preventable chronic conditions: cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. It encouraged its employees to adopt healthy lifestyles by reducing the annual premium (by US $780 for the individual and US $1,560 for the family) if an employee passed all the tests for preventable conditions. The company estimates that the U.S. can save $800 billion by adopting a similar approach.
Does the demand and consumption of healthcare
affect the economy? Issues related to scarcity in healthrelated
amenities, and the social causes of healthaffecting
lifestyle and behavior might significantly
alter the economics of the healthcare sector. Cost,
inconsistent quality and accessibility are some of the
key challenges in healthcare delivery across economies.
The affordability of healthcare is affected by factors
like rising elderly population living well beyond their
earning years, and increased incidence of chronic
diseases, among others. According to experts,
30% of the healthcare delivered in the U.S.
is unnecessary. IT can minimize errors and
redundant diagnostic tests and treatments,
while ensuring better healthcare delivery
through patient data analytics, evidence-based
medication, paperless transactions, etc.
Several healthcare providers have enlisted
social media to promote preventive healthcare.
Bioinformatics and patient data analytics would play a
critical role in improving prevention statistics. The shift
from cure to prevention provides a huge opportunity
for investing in wellness. The trend of considering
healthcare across sectors such as manufacturing, retail,
financial services, travel and tourism has already begun
to transform established business models.