The One Thing to Save Health Care

Remember the movie “City Slickers?” During one of the better scenes, Curly (Jack Palance) tells Mitch (Billy Crystal) that life is about “one thing,” but you have to find out just what that thing is for yourself. Mitch spends the rest of the movie looking for his “one thing” and ends up much better as a result.

Are you hearing about “one thing” that is going to save the health care system? Health reform promises lower costs, new health plans advertise better rates, complementary medicine assures new treatments and wellness programs offer better solutions. Unfortunately, health care doesn’t work quite like Hollywood. Health care businesses and professionals seem to pop up every day and offer to save the health care world. Effective, long-term health care success is going to depend on integrating the strongest health care resources, not on a single industry or provider. After all doesn’t the system in health care system imply standardizing and integrating resources for optimal, reproducible outcomes?

Be very wary of resources that stand-alone and promise results. The best results are not achieved by health systems, health plans, third party administrators or wellness firms. The best results are achieved by all of these important resources working together. Before opening your wallets you should look at resources that you are already paying for that need to emphasized (e.g., preventive physician exams, health education, smoking cessation, EAP, etc.) Afterwards, they can fill in the gaps with programs that are proven to make a difference such as preventive screening, disease management and healthy lifestyle awareness.

So don’t throw up your hands and give up on the health care system. Instead, use the proper combinations of your best existing, and new resources. You may not save the world, but you will move closer to more effective health care.

Scott Foster is President of Wellco, based in Michigan. Wellco works with organizations who want to measurably improve health costs and risks.   Wellco specializes in health ROI systems, health risk appraisals, corporate wellness programs, speaking, and consulting.  Wellco is the developer of the award-winning HealthHammer, the first and only Zero Trend Appraisal system.

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