Have We Seen Any Progress in Building a Culture of Health?
Unlike other year-in-review articles that analyzed last year’s missteps and future roadblocks along the path to health care reform, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation presented a more optimistic look at the state of American health care. The Foundation prepared a retrospective evaluating the advances that has been made towards a strategy that replaces typical patient engagement goals with a vision of building, “A Culture of Health for all, one that would allow every one of us to make healthy choices wherever we live, work and play.”
The results, according to the RWJ blog post “Top 10 Signs We are Building a Culture of Health,” are positive. How can we make the most of these trends— through partnerships, education, technology and more — to continue the momentum?
Signs of Progress
What happened in 2014 to convince the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that we’re on the right track?
- The childhood obesity epidemic shows signs of slowing. According to research, obesity among 2 to 5 year olds decreased by 40 percent in just eight years.
- Healthier school lunches, which were rolled out nationally in 2012, appear to be popular with 70 percent of elementary and middle school students and 62 percent of high school students.
- Berkley, California passed a tax on sugary beverages, the first in the country. It’s just one town, but we will see if such a step will have the desired effect on one of the leading contributors to the obesity epidemic.
- Cycling is cool. Bike-sharing programs in urban areas have increased from 6 to 36 in just four years and the blog notes, small towns are also “embracing pedal power.”
- The rise of mHealth apps signals new opportunities to connect with Millennials and other tech-loving consumers.
- The walking meeting movement is gaining traction, demonstrating that healthier behaviors are moving into the workplace.
- Workplace wellness programs are on the rise, too, ranging from programs to reduce absenteeism to smoking bans inside facilities, including those at Reynolds American, the second-largest U.S. cigarette company.
- Going tobacco-free is not just happening in the workplace. More than 1,000 college campuses have joined the 446 that were tobacco-free four years ago.
- And CVS also dropped tobacco from its stores. Despite the $2 billion hit in annual sales, stock prices for the drug store chain rose at the news.
- The number of uninsured people in the U.S. dropped after the first year of open enrollment in the federal state health care exchanges and Medicaid expansion.
Fine-Tuning Strategies to Reach the Right People
Many of the successes noted above have come about through a combination of efforts. Health care providers have partnered with community organizations. Educational campaigns have reached out to consumers across various channels. Wearable technology is helping to increase awareness into how active — or inactive — people are and encouraging them to be more active. Many of those efforts, however, have been in the works for years. How can we accelerate the adoption of healthier lifestyles that the RWJ blog highlights?
Since February is American Heart Month, let’s look specifically at ways that we can improve engagement among consumers with cardiovascular conditions. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Clearly, it’s a population health issue that needs further attention.
The progress cited by the blog shows that some contributing factors — diet, exercise, tobacco use — are being addressed within the general population, but health care providers still need to drive enhanced patient engagement among consumers diagnosed with cardiovascular conditions to achieve breakthrough results across the population.
Part of a vibrant Culture of Health is the understanding that patients are more than their diagnosis.
What works to motivate one person may not be effective for another. With the extensive market research assembled in the PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic, we have been able to develop an in-depth report offering insights into consumers with coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The report looks specifically at:
- How consumers with cardiovascular conditions manage their health conditions
- Behaviors and attitudes regarding health care professionals
- Prescription and over-the-counter shopping habits
- Needs and attitudes about health insurance
- Information and media channel preferences
- Attitudes about the affordable care act and health insurance exchanges
PatientBond offers a free sample of the data included in the chapter on cardiovascular conditions.
In addition to demographic, socioeconomic and behavioral segmentation available from these insights, health care providers and other organizations can gain deeper insights into what motivates consumers — including those with specific diagnoses — by applying PatientBond’s proprietary psychographic segmentation model. With better understanding, it may be possible to accelerate the progress being made towards better patient engagement and creating the “Culture of Health” that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has for the future.