We all know that once a complex issue becomes politicized the conversation around it immediately drops to the lowest common denominator level. Slogans replace concepts and emotions trump thinking and intelligence. This has been the shared experience over the past 18 months regarding the future of health care in America. The conversation about this subject has been driven by fear, misinformation, and politics. Any conversation driven by those three forces is almost by definition not an intelligent conversation.
As a country we owe it to ourselves to start having an intelligent discourse about the future of health care, the future of medicine, the coming changes in our health care delivery system, and the health and wellness of our citizens.
The Health Care Reform Law — PPACA — started a process that is already occurring. Politicians, entering an election year will use phrases like “socialized medicine,” “Obama care,” and the enormous debt crisis to emotionally fish for votes. As usual, politicians are behind the curve. Major corporations in the health care sector and those that serve that market are already undergoing major changes and structural reorganizations.
Billions of dollars have already been spent or earmarked toward the new health care reality of our country. Regardless of any alterations legislatively or by the courts, such will not alter the dynamic forces changing health care in our country. The dye has been cast, the genie is out of the bottle, the buying and selling of medical practices, the merging of large health care institutions and corporate players has been going on now for more than a year. Things are moving rapidly, certainly faster than those who are trying to politicize our future health realize.
The New Health Age is inevitable. This new age will change how we think about medicine, health care delivery, and even our own personal well-being. It is the inevitable next stage in the history of modern medicine. Realize that what we know and have experienced as modern medicine is only 150 years old. It is only since our Civil War that what we accept as health care has existed. It is a recent phenomenon that has been in a state of accelerating change since that time of unifying our country. It is too fast moving to be thought of as ‘status quo.’
Science and modern medicine are on the threshold of spectacular breakthroughs that will redefine health. Each of us will be able to have our own genetic mapping done. This will change how we look at our health. For example, what if a 25 year old woman finds that her personal genetic mapping points to a high probability of early onset of Alzheimer’s? What will she do? She will do whatever current medical thinking says might slow that onset; take Omega-3 fish oil, work out every day, and learn new skills to challenge the brain. Health care will become preventative.
By the end of this decade it will become routine to have replacement parts in our bodies that will be every bit as good as the parts they replace, if not better. We are currently comfortable with joint replacements. Think about artificial eyes that have a 10 warranty of 20/20 vision? Such futuristic possibilities will become commonplace in society.
The health care delivery system, and the practice of medicine will become ever more about wellness, keeping ourselves healthy and well, rather than treating our symptoms and diseases. Economic incentives will move toward keeping people well as a healthier population, which will lead to lower health care costs. Remember that old phrase that we have all heard: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
We have entered this new age of incredible possibility, health, and well-being that will lead to a complete economic reorganization based upon increasing the health of all Americans. We write these words as patriotic Americans, not as members of any political party.
Holding onto the past, being nostalgic and being fearful of the unknown have all been part of the human condition when confronted by massive change. The change has already begun. The New Health Age is here. We must now face it, embrace it and become a country that will ultimately lower health care costs and have healthier citizens. It is time to start the intelligent conversation about health care in this country. Let’s join together to forge a consensus to embrace the changes that will make us healthier as individuals and as a country. It is now time to lower our personal and national health care costs. That is what this New Health Age is about.
© 2011 David Houle and Jonathon Fleece, authors of The New Health Age: The Future of Health Care in America
David Houle, co-author of The New Health Age: The Future of Health Care in America, is known as the “CEO’s futurist.” He has spoken to or advised more than 1,800 CEOs. Globally he is one of the most sought after futurist speakers today, having delivered more than 350 speeches on four continents since 2007. He is the author of the acclaimed The Shift Age and Shift Ed: A Call for Action for Transforming K-12 Education. He began writing his groundbreaking futurist blog www.evolutionshift.com in 2006.
Jonathan Fleece, co-author of The New Health Age: The Future of Health Care in America, is a leading health care attorney in the U.S., who specialized in advising clients on how to take advantage of health care reform. He has practiced law for nearly 14 years and is currently a shareholder with Blalock Walters, P.A. at www.blalockwalters.com. He is currently 1 of only 116 Board Certified Health Care attorneys in Florida. Jonathan has served as Associate General Counsel to a large integrated health care delivery system in Saint Louis, Missouri. He has practiced law in Florida, Missouri, and Illinois.
Houle and Fleece are cofounders of New Health Age Advisors LLC, a health care advisory and strategy firm.