Zero Trend – A Terrific Health Care Economic Conversation
Post written by Lori A. Mallory, CEO, Kansas City Internal Medicine
On Tuesday of last week, March 27th (and also my late Grandfather’s birthday- LOVE that guy!), Kansas City had the opportunity to listen to one of the nation’s thought leaders on health care and the economic realities our nation is experiencing.
Dr. Dee Edington, formerly with the University of Michigan and now in his own consulting company, has spent the last 35 years of his life focused on this issue. His commentary is both in your face and refreshing or, as he put it: DISRUPTIVE.
Our nation is faced with a challenge to make better choices in healthy living or face a most certain crisis as it relates to the impossible cost of paying for the majority of Americans being overweight and frought with the diseases such as Diabetes, Hyperlipedimea (High Cholesterol), and Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), as well as others.
His now famous book, “ZERO TRENDS”, outlines the fact that if we could “just not get sicker” and focus on staying healthy then we would have “zero trend” in our economic spend as it relates to health care.
He urged us to realize that what we have done in this past century has brought us nowhere as “fewer people are well now than in the 1950s.” We have focused on a health care system built to pay for the results of disease and illness, rather than focusing on keeping our community “well”.
I loved this comment in regard to employers incenting smokers to stop smoking: “What if we paid all of the non-smokers the $100 incentive and let the smokers figure it out.” The change in thinking is indeed disruptive and quite frankly it makes good sense to me.
Even at Kansas City Internal Medicine we have had weight loss incentive programs, but I don’t believe we’ve ever incented those who are staying healthy and not gaining weight…. what a refreshing idea! That comment alone was worth his speaking fee and you could see the wheels start turning in the audience.
Dr. Edington encouraged a “new level of thinking” to take place and for the integration of health into the environment and culture of all work places. “Setting an expectation of health” as a leader is a metric that asks “Would everyone in your company know that health and wellness are a key part of your mission/vision for your employees?”
We are all charged with thinking about how we can keep our families healthy, “not get sicker”, and do our part in ensuring our nation’s economic security is in place. As I wrote this, another thought struck me: I wonder what the service men and women who have served our country to protect it think about that Americans, due to our indulgence, scarred our ability to provide and take care of our own people by creating an unmanageable financial situation. Something to think about…