Article | February 10, 2020
During the past decade, the healthcare industry has undergone an unprecedented technological transformation. The industry, once defined by manual processes, has moved squarely into the digital age. As patients, we’ve all become accustomed to seeing physicians as well as clinical staff use laptops during office visits. And behind the scenes, hospitals and health networks have made substantial investments in financial and HR systems, among others. One of the more significant digital advancements has been the industry’s focus on applying greater levels of automation to supply chain processes. In doing so, provider and supplier organizations have improved the efficiency of their supply chains, driven out millions of dollars in cost and waste, all while keeping patient care front and center.
Article | February 10, 2020
For many years now, we’ve all been talking about a worldwide digital transformation in healthcare. One of the key motivations for healthcare’s digital transformation has been to enable the shift from labor-intensive, manual, in-person encounters in healthcare facilities and replace them with encounters that are instead digital, possibly automated, and which can take place wherever the patient happens to beAcross industries, we talk about revolutionizing the customer experience. In healthcare, this revolution has focused on experiences for each patient, every health plan member, every healthcare provider, and all healthcare employees. And when it comes to providing the best care for people who are already ill, we also know that hospitals and medical offices are dangerous places. After all, those who are sick can infect those that are healthy—and this includes our healthcare providers. The more we can provide appropriate assessments, diagnose, and treat patients in the comfort of their own homes—and keep their infections out of hospitals and other medical facilities—the better it is for everyone. It’s the old mantra of the right care, in the right setting, at the right time.
Article | February 10, 2020
The COVID-19 virus (C19) pandemic is turning out to be the event of the century. Even World War seems timid in comparison. We are in the 4th month of the virus (in non-China countries) and have gone past the lockdown in many places. Isn’t it time we re-think the approach? What if there is another wave of C19 coming soon? What if C19 is the first of many such events in the future?
Before we get into analysis and solution design, summarizing the C19 quirks:
While a large section of the affected population is asymptomatic, for some it can be lethal
There isn’t clarity on all the ways C19 spreads
It’s known to affect the lungs, heart, and kidneys in patients with weak immunity
It has been hard to identify a definitive pattern of the virus. Some observations in managing the C19 situation are:
With no vaccine in sight, the end of this epidemic looks months or years away
Health care personnel in hospitals need additional protection to treat patients
Lockdowns lead to severe economic hardship and its repeated application can be damaging
Quarantining people has an economic cost, especially in the weaker sections of society
If one takes a step back to re-think about this, we are primarily solving 2 problems:
Minimise deaths: Minimise the death of C19 and non-C19 patients in this period
Maximise economic growth: The GDP output/growth should equal or higher than pre-C19 levels
One needs to achieve the 2 goals in an environment of rising number of C19 cases.
An approach that can be applied to achieve this is:
Data driven health care capacity planning
Build a health repository of all the citizens with details like pre-existing diseases, comorbidity, health status, etc. The repository needs to be updated quarterly to account for patient data changes
This health repository data is combined with the C19 profile (disease susceptibility) and/or other seasonal diseases to determine the healthcare capacity (medicines, doctors, etc.) needed
The healthcare capacity deficit/excess needs to be analysed in categories (beds, equipment, medicine, personnel, etc.) and regions (city, state, etc.) and actions taken accordingly
Regular capacity management will ensure patients aren’t deprived of timely treatment. In addition, such planning helps in the equitable distribution of healthcare across regions and optimising health care costs. Healthcare sector is better prepared to scale-up/down their operations
Based on the analysis citizens can be informed about their probability of needing hospitalisation on contracting C19. Citizens with a higher health risk on C19 infection should be personally trained on prevention and tips to manage the disease on occurrence
The diagram below explains the process
Mechanism to increase hospital capacity without cost escalation
Due to the nature of C19, health personnel are prone to infection and their safety is a big issue. There is also a shortage of hospitable beds available. Even non-C19 patients aren’t getting the required treatment because health personnel seek it as a risk. This resulted in, healthcare costs going up and availability reducing.
To mitigate such issues, hospital layouts may need to be altered (as shown in the diagram below). The altered layout improves hospital capacity and availability of health care personnel. It also reduces the need for the arduous C19 protection procedures. Such procedures reduce the patient treatment capacity and puts a toll on hospital management.
Over a period, the number of recovered C19 persons are going to increase significantly. We need to start tapping into their services to reduce the burden on the system. The hospitals need to be divided into 3 zones. The hospital zoning illustration shown below explains how this could be done. In the diagram, patients are shown in green and health care personnel are in light red.
**Assumption: Infected and recovered C19 patients are immune to the disease. This is not clearly established
Better enforcement of social factors
The other reason for high number of infections in countries like India is a glaring disregard in following C19 rules in public places and the laxity in enforcement. Enforcement covers 2 parts, tracking incidents of violation and penalising the behaviour. Government should use modern mechanisms like crowd sourcing to track incidents and ride on the growing public fear to ensure penalty enforcement succeeds. The C19 pandemic has exposed governance limitations in not just following C19 rules, but also in other areas of public safety like road travel, sanitation, dietary habits, etc.
Maximise economic growth
The earlier lockdown has strained the economy. Adequate measures need to be taken to get the economy back on track. Some of the areas that need to be addressed are:
One needs to evaluate the development needs of the country in different categories like growth impetus factors (e.g. building roads, electricity capacity increase), social factors (e.g. waste water treatment plants, health care capacity), and environmental factors (e.g. solar energy generation, EV charging stations). Governments need to accelerate funding in such projects so that that large numbers of unemployed people are hired and trained. Besides giving an immediate boost to the ailing economy such projects have a future payback. The governments should not get bogged down by the huge fiscal deficit such measures can create. Such a mechanism to get money out in the economy is far than better measures like QE (Quantitative Easing) or free money transfer into people’s bank accounts
Certain items like smartphone, internet, masks, etc. have become critical (for work, education, critical government announcements). It’s essential to subsidise or reduce taxes so that these items are affordable and accessible to everyone without a financial impact
The government shouldn’t put too many C19 related controls on service offerings (e.g. shops, schools, restaurants, cabs). Putting many controls increases the cost of the service which neither the seller not buyer is willing or able to pay. Where controls are put, the Govt should bear the costs or reduce taxes or figure out a mechanism so that the cost can be absorbed.
An event like the C19 pandemic is a great opportunity to rationalise development imbalances in the country. Government funding should be channelized more to under-developed regions. This drives growth in regions that need it most. It also prevents excess migration that has resulted in uncontrolled and bad urbanisation that has made C19 management hard (guidelines like social distance are impossible to follow)
Post-C19 lockdown, the business environment (need for sanitizers, masks, home furniture) has changed. To make people employable in new flourishing businesses there could be a need to re-skill people. Such an initiative can be taken up by the public/private sector
The number of C19 infected asymptomatic patients is going to keep increasing. Building an economy around them (existing, recovered C19 patients) may not be a far-fetched idea. E.g. jobs for C19 infected daily wage earners, C19 infected taxi drivers to transport C19 patients, etc.
In the last 100 years, mankind has conquered the destructive aspects of many a disease and natural mishap (hurricanes, floods, etc.). Human lives lost in such events has dramatically dropped over the years and our preparedness has never been this good. Nature seems to have caught up with mankind’s big strides in science and technology. C19 has been hard to reign in with no breakthrough yet. The C19 pandemic is here to stay for the near future. The more we accept this reality and change ourselves to live with it amidst us, the faster we can return to a new normal. A quote from Edward Jenner (inventor of Small Pox) seems apt in the situation – “The deviation of man from the state in which he was originally placed by nature seems to have proved to him a prolific source of diseases”.
FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE
Article | February 10, 2020
Let’s face it. It’s been one tough year with too many of us sitting idle and indulging in calorie-laden foods for way too long as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the globe. For all too many, sheltering in place has prompted unwelcome weight gain—a troublesome truth as we head into the holiday season where gluttony oft reigns supreme.
That said, many individuals did have foresight and motivation back in March and the months that followed, wisely leveraging that extreme downtime to “diet for dollars” with HealthyWage—a pioneer of money-driven weight loss contests and challenges for individuals, teams and business groups. In fact, those who started a 6-month HealthyWager challenge during the pandemic (late March through May) broke company records, spurring a dramatic increase in pound shedding success rates—and in-kind cash payouts—against the norm. So motivated became America to drop, or avoid, the so-called ‘quarantine 15’ and score some cold hard cash in the process, HealthyWage reports that this past May it logged a substantial year-over-year increase in challenge participants at large. This is not surprising given Google search trends indicates the portion of people searching for weight loss hit a 5-year high in May of 2020—a level even exceeding the quintessential New Year’s diet resolution season.
Beyond the fact that people who started weight loss wagers during the pandemic achieved much greater success as compared to participant results the prior year, and earning hundreds and even thousands of dollars for their efforts, it is women and individuals under 30 years of age primarily accounting for the sustained increases. For example, among the litany of pandemic era success stories, Lisa S. won over $1,900 for losing 50 pounds in 6 months while Hayden T. won over $1,200 for losing over 62 pounds in 6 months—both during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the coronavirus rages on well into the fourth quarter, we collectively find ourselves again having to shelter-in-place. Those trying to reconcile how they will survive this next round of being home bound, and the holiday season at large, with mitigated waistline and budgetary wreckage—and who are even planning their New Year resolution approach just beyond—would be wise to consider the gamified dieting approach. “Loss Aversion is a powerful dynamic and the reality of having ‘skin in the game’ can propel the results of a gamified weight loss initiative,” notes HealthyWage co-founder David Roddenberry.
The efficacy of diet gamification is well-proven. For one, according to study findings published by JAMA Internal Medicine, behavioral economics-based gamification led to “significantly” increased physical activity among overweight and obese Americans. In this particular study, pairing a step tracking device with social incentives led to sustained, long-term behavior change—prompting participants to take more steps then with a step tracking device, alone. While the report explains that “gamification interventions significantly increased physical activity during the 24-week intervention,” with competition being the “most effective.”
That’s something HealthyWage has seen play out since launching its weight-loss gamification platform in 2009. HealthyWage is, in fact, founded on earlier substantive research and "double-incentivization" methodology that proves competition and rewards—especially the cash variety—can as much as triple the effectiveness of weight loss programs.
“A key element for the success of a gamification program is giving participants something to lose if they fail to meet their goal—whether tangible or intangible,” notes Roddenberry. “In this particular study, it was just points at stake but even this effected behavior change. There are actually throngs of studies demonstrated that the threat of losing something of value is much more effective than the opportunity to win something of equal value. That’s precisely why we advocate that program participants ‘pay to play’ and make an investment out of their own pocket in order to win rewards—in our case large cash prizes—for losing weight and getting more active in the program.”
A few other notable HealthyWager success stories (both female and male) are case-in-point. These include Jean N. who lost 71 lbs. and won $3,357.99 for her efforts, and Jeremy M. who also lost 71 lbs. and won $1,886.32 for his own slimdown success. From its website, HealthyWage.com shares yet more inspirational success stories of both women and men who gained financially for their pound-shedding achievements using the company’s unique gamification approach. This includes Kristin W. who lost a staggering 114 pounds and won $4,000 for her efforts, Anastasia W. who lost 41 pounds and won a whopping $10,000 in kind, and Blake S. who lost an impressive 151 pounds and won $4,670 for his own slimdown success. Figures that are tasty, indeed.
These and other such HealthyWage payouts are proof positive. For their weight-loss achievements that collectively exceeds an astounding 1,050,000 pounds for this year, alone—269 of which losing in excess of 100 pounds (and nearly 7.5 million pounds lost since the company’s launch), HealthyWage has reportedly paid more than xx30,000 dieters over $13 million cash in 2020, specifically, and over $55 million cash since its inception in 2009.
HealthyWage programs apply these principles:
HealthyWager Challenge: participants commit to a weight loss goal and an upfront financial payment and get their money back plus a financial return if they accomplish their weight loss goal. The average participant loses 40.7 pounds and gets paid $1,245.
HealthyWage Step Challenge: participants commit money and agree to increase their steps by 25% over 60-days. If they achieve their goal they get their money back plus the money from those who don't hit their goal.
Upholding the new findings while also further validating HealthyWage’s well-honed approach, an additional study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine continue to prove that money is an effective motivator to “increase both the magnitude and duration of weight loss.” The same hold true in business for staff wellness initiatives. Results from one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicated that “Loss Incentive’ Motivates Employees to Take More Steps ,” finding that financial incentives framed as a loss were most effective for achieving physical activity goals.
As a prolific corporate and group wellness purveyor, since 2009 HealthyWage has worked with an array of hi-caliber participants on workplace and staff wellness initiatives, including Halliburton, ConocoPhillips and more than 25% of the largest school districts in the country. HealthyWage has, in fact, formally created competitive, money-motivated programs for more than 1000 Fortune 500 and other public and private companies, hospitals, health systems, insurers, school systems, municipal governments and other organizations throughout the U.S., and their program has been more informally run at more than 7,000 companies and organizations seeking to bolster staff health and well-being, and boost bottom lines in kind.
“Throngs of studies reiterate the importance of the 'stick' in the design of a wellness incentive program, whether for individuals at home or for employee groups,” Roddenberry says. “Many studies have demonstrated that the threat of losing something of value is much more effective than the opportunity to win something of equal value. That’s precisely why we advocate that program participants ‘pay to play’ and make an investment out of their own pocket in order to win rewards—in our case large cash prizes—for losing weight and getting more active in the program.”
Studies do consistently show that monetary incentives serve to enhance the effectiveness of, and duly complement, weight-loss programs of any and all sorts, especially when paid out quickly like HealthyWage’s various programs. For its part, HealthyWage reports that the average participant more than doubles their investment if they are successful at achieving their goal. The financial upside potential is impressive.
So, if this is the season when you would like to not only resolve to lose those extra lbs. but also actually achieve that worthy goal, consider a cash-fueled approach. It just might give you that extra dose of motivation that’ll truly help you stay the course, shed weight and make some extra money in the process. There’s no better time than right now to bank on yourself.