Prevention and Empowerment in Healthcare
From great thinkers such as Erasmus to Benjamin Franklin, we have been advised that prevention is better than a cure. This is usually true about most things, but especially our health.
This weekend, I will participate in the annual wellness program available through my workplace. It offers comprehensive blood testing and physical screenings to detect health issues in the hope that they can be addressed before they become a huge problem.
This is obviously best for the patient, but in the end, it’s best for everyone else, too. The cost of chronic disease is a price we all pay, as it increases taxes and insurance premiums and increases utilization of expensive services.
It was through my very first annual wellness screening that my hypothyroidism was discovered and diagnosed. Thankfully, it was not bad at the time and I began treatment early. I have read stories of others who discovered abnormalities in their testing that led to the very early discovery of other diseases and were able to begin early treatments rather than have to begin aggressive therapies. More importantly, we all have stories of areas where we saw we could make an improvement, and by taking preventive measures we were able to stop chronic problems before they started.
Information itself doesn’t solve the problem, but it empowers patients to be proactive about their health. It still requires commitment and effort from the patient in order to correct problems or make progress. But I have personally adjusted my life style in comparatively small ways and ended up reaping huge benefits. I remember that in my first screening my triglycerides were in the high end of normal and I had dropped them significantly before my second screening, simply by adjusting my diet and exercise.
The organization I work for also provides incentives. If we can pass certain health benchmarks, such as being free of metabolic syndrome and being cotinine free, we qualify for discounts on our health insurance costs. Because of the huge impact this makes, I have worked hard every year to ensure that I qualify. Also, it is a positive indication that the organization cares about our general health – or at the very least, about keeping our health care costs down.
At the end of the day, taking small preventive measures in our daily lives beats managing lifelong chronic issues caused by lifestyle choices. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to work for a company that not only provides this benefit to its own employees but also to countless thousands of others in different organizations through our wellness program offerings.