Healthcare Sytem Strategies
- Challenge: As the baby boomer generation ages, there will be an explosion in demand for medical services, especially those involved in the treatment of chronic disease conditions.
The healthcare system in in danger of being overwhelmed by its own success. As procedures and technologies become more extensive and expensive, the opportunities for improving the health and longevity of patients improves, but at significant cost. The rapid rise in the population over 65 portends a $50 trillion tsunami in the U.S. for medical services, pharmaceuticals and other technologies. Even if finances were no obstacle, the consumer population will grow much faster than the population of medical service providers. Fueling the generational spike in demand is the increasing prominence of chronic diseases like emphysema, Alzheimer's, heart disease and diabetes. In the next decades, chronic disease treatment will grow to more than 65% of total health care expenditures.
The good and bad news is that the onset of chronic disease is often the product of the health behaviors of individuals carried out over a lifetime. This means there is a long lag between changes in preventive practices and impact on overall public health. The good news is that relatively small changes in behavior such as taking medicine to control factors like blood pressure and sugar levels can have a large impact on individual health and demand for public health services in the larger population.
In our terms, managing t2-behaviors such as smoking and exercise can have an enormous financial result if the effect is to postpone the onset of chronic disease by even a few years. Managing existing chronic diseases like congestive heart failure and diabetes similarly depend on changes in patient behavior and the support systems that encourage those changes. It is then of critical value to understand the set of conditions that permit behaviors to change and persist in individuals and across populations.