In the face of a series of converging economic and demographic forces, the United States is in need of a model of modern healthcare that utilizes a combination of preventative health care and technological advancement to combat disease and maximize efficiency, according to a public-private partnership group.
In a report released Tuesday, the ACT-IAC Institute for Innovation recommended the federal government do just that, by shifting to a more proactive, wellness-oriented approach to healthcare and become a model for the country. The report is one of series of calls to action aimed at senior government leaders, issued by the American Council of Technology and the Industry Advisory Council.
The report outlines the “Perfect Storm” of healthcare challenges facing the nation, including the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation from 2012 to 2030, the rise of healthcare spending and federal debt, and the fact that seven chronic diseases consume 80% of current U.S. healthcare expenditures.
Left unchecked, health care spending is expected to to escalate from 17.3% of GDP in 2009 to as much as 40% by 2030, and continue increasing 10% every 10 years, putting massive strains on the nation’s federal debt.
The report goes on to emphasize that economic benefits of a system modeled to promote intervention, wellness and chronic disease prevention to avert or reduce down stream costs. It also stressed the importance information technology can, and must play, to drive these improvements through information sharing and the power of big data analytics.
The report makes three major recommendations for policy leaders:
1. Increase visibility and accountability for federal employee health. Empowering nearly 2.5 million federal employees to more fully participate in patient-driven programs — with increased commitments for wellness programs by the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Defense — would provide the evidence needed to mobilize other employers to provide programs and services to improve their employees’ health.
2. Leverage information technology to enhance and extend agency wellness programs. The federal government could utilize programs it already has in place, such as mobile technology, cloud service and social media to gather critical data and encourage patient-driven behavior changes that could reduce health costs. It could also provide greater visibility to medical information websites, such as WebMD and those produced by the National Institutes of Health,
3. Provide leadership in driving a wellness agenda among employers. The federal government, as the nation’s largest employer, can play a catalytic role in establishing wellness programs, providing an example for other organizations to follow. The report mentioned the crucial role the Office of Personnel Management might play in tracking agencies that implement demonstration programs and collaborating with employee unions and healthcare insurers in demonstrating the program’s value.
The report was one of half of dozen policy briefings prepared by a group of more than 100 volunteers from government and industry to address some of the nation’s most pressing challenges, as part of the Innovation Institute’s Quadrennial Government Technology Review.