The lack of prevention education and awareness in our nation is a problem that transcends gender, race, and age, and affects millions on a daily basis. Groups such as the unemployed, the uninsured, Baby Boomers and parents are not receiving the support and encouragement necessary to follow care plans that can prevent serious health conditions, improve quality of life, and lower medical expenses.
While the use of preventive care may seem like an obvious choice, many Americans still aren’t aware of its benefits, and many of those who are feel prevention is something they simply can’t afford. Some opt to wait until a condition becomes a major problem, which leads to higher expenses for urgent treatment of a disease or condition that may have been prevented with screenings or lifestyle changes that were recommended during a preventive care visit. Education regarding healthcare benefits is also needed, as many of these preventive care measures are covered under the new healthcare mandates and existing insurance policies, yet many of those with insurance are unaware of this. The cost of this lack of education is adding up, with the Department of Health and Human Services expecting U.S. healthcare spending to surpass $3 trillion in 2014. This is due, in no small part, to many healthcare consumers forgoing preventive care, thus being at risk for needing a trip to the emergency room when a major health problem presents itself or can no longer be ignored.
Nutrition and exercise, two commonly doctor-prescribed preventive actions, are not of top priority, and our nation is getting more obese and less active as years pass. Many, no matter their socioeconomic status or location, are failing to nurture their bodies with the proper preventive actions that will protect them from disease and chronic illness and also save millions in healthcare spending. According to our TeleVox Healthy World research, 95 percent of Americans feel preventive care is important, yet only 24 percent give themselves an A grade for their efforts to ensure a preventive lifestyle. In the past two years, less than half of the adults surveyed said they’ve exercised routinely, and only 52 percent said they’ve attempted to improve their eating habits or have incorporated more nutritious foods into their diets.
We’ve discovered that providers engaging their patients via mobile phone, email and voicemail can provide an easier pathway for those who are looking for healthcare or prevention answers but may not have the coverage, money, or time to receive them face to face. With high-tech communication, doctors can relay the importance of preventive care and healthy lifestyle choices, making a healthy future possible for our nation.
Scott Zimmerman is a regularly-published thought leader on engaging patients via ongoing communication between office visits. He is the President of TeleVox Software, Inc, a high-tech Engagement Communications company that provides automated voice, email, SMS and web solutions that activate positive patient behaviors by applying technology to deliver a human touch. Scott spearheads TeleVox’s Healthy World initiative, a program that leverages ethnographic research to uncover, understand and interpret both patient and provider points of view with the end goal of creating a healthy world–one person at a time. Zimmerman possesses 20 years of proven performance in the healthcare industry, with domain knowledge in the surgical, interventional and pharmaceutical arenas. Prior to joining TeleVox, Scott served for nine years at GE Healthcare in a variety of cross-functional and global leadership roles in sales, services, quality, marketing, pricing, finance and product development. Scott is a graduate of the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis.