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am i a cockeyed optimist or are we witnessing a health revolution?

April 14, 2010

in wellness

seems like we’re not only experiencing a food revolution on tv and in west virginia but the rumblings of a health revolution. look at this sampling of articles and studies zeroing in on innovations, partnerships, and strategic business decisions related to getting people healthy. i’m not missing the point that businesses are doing much of this to stay profitable. i think the point is that they’re starting to equate better health with better profits.

within the past few months, a new wind’s blowing. do you feel it too? i’d love to hear your point of view.

f

afterthought: as greg points out below, some of what’s reported above is not necessarily new. there are companies, like humana, that have been pushing the envelope and changing their focus for some time now. to me, it seems the volume of companies and the tone of the conversation is what’s changing.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Cali Williams Yost April 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Fran,
I completely agree! As I wrote in my Fastcompany.com blog last September, “Employee Health, Wellness–No Longer Optional Benefit, but Strategic Imperative.” I think it’s even better news when companies do something because it makes business sense, versus simply “a nice thing to do.” It means there’s a great likelihood for meaningful, sustained change. I feel the wind’s blowing too. I feel it and it feels good.
Best,
Cali

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Cali Williams Yost April 14, 2010 at 2:24 pm
David Janus April 14, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Good post, Fran. This month’s Atlantic has an interesting article on dealing with obesity from a social/political perspective –

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/04/beating-obesity/8017/1/?

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Greg Matthews April 14, 2010 at 6:59 pm

I think (and hope) that you’re right, Fran … as one of the players in this space, it might be time for me to get scared of all the “competition” … except that I think that this is definitely a “rising tide raises all boats” scenario.

I have had more discussions around strategic partnerships in health (with major NON-HEALTH brands, mind you) in the last 2 months than I have had in the last two years.

More and more companies are starting not only to get serious about their employees’ health, but are also seeing the trend that we latched onto 3 years ago: Consumers needs relative to their health have never been higher – and the traditional healthcare system has never been less prepared to meet them. Thus, we’re being intermediated by other smart companies in other industries. I hope it’s enough incentive for ALL of us to kick it into gear around health.

The health insurance reform bill, in spite of many positive developments, did nothing to actually promote health. Maybe that’s OK – we’ll be forced to do it ourselves … which is the way it always should have been anyway.

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fran April 14, 2010 at 7:49 pm

cali and david, thanks for your additional thoughts and articles. i need to carve out time to read them.

david, i’m curious about your point of view on this. you work with benefits professionals – what are you hearing from them?

greg, the amount of conversation that’s swirling around us in every milieu (my god, a reality show about people getting healthy?!) is part of what makes me so optimistic. i want to probe more about the health insurance reform bill. i know it’s a long way off, but what’s your point of view on the increased incentive companies can use for wellness programs? and what about the focus on providing preventive health care?

f

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Melanie M. Lazarus, MPH April 15, 2010 at 10:16 am

Excellent timing on this, Fran. I was just reading earlier this week in the NY Times about UnitedHealth Group teaming up with the YMCA in an attempt to make a dent in the Type 2 diabetes problem. Their motivation? New healthcare laws requiring insurance companies to cover people regardless of their medical condition. I was extremely disappointed to see how little the healthcare bill was increasing funds in the way of preventative care, but perhaps this is going to work out after all.

I agree with Greg completely–most of this is not new. I think there may be some great things coming down the pike, especially since some big brands are starting to answer the call. But I hope that the powers that be will continue to make this a priority, not just from a PR perspective. I say this only because campaigns like the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” have really put school nutrition in the spotlight, but the program remains without funds for schools wishing to participate and without legislation to back it. I’m ready to see things be taken one step further!

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fran April 15, 2010 at 3:11 pm

hey melanie,

that driver for unitedhealth group and the driver of not going the way of tobacco compaies (pepsi’s logic) are part of what gives me hope as we struggle with the imbalance of something like a public campaign without funding or legs. i want to ask you the same question i asked greg — what’s your point of view about the preventive care requirements that take effect in 2014?

f

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