Currently, the tone and tenor of the conversation about healthcare in the United States can only be described as fraught, fragmented, passionate and largely negative. Clearly, many people — no matter their political persuasion — are greatly disappointed about the rollout of HealthCare.gov, and concerned about the site’s many problems, including security issues that had the potential to compromise users’ private health data.
With the furor over the Affordable Care Act continuing unabated, it’s easy to forget that healthcare is about much more than legislation and arguments over who will be responsible for paying the nation’s ever-increasing medical bills. nstead, quietly and with little fanfare, there have been a range of developments — some of them spawned by legislation, others culture and necessity — that, taken together, suggest we can be optimistic, but realistic, about the future of healthcare.
One important optimistic development (that has been aided by health marketers) is the rise of Virtual Counseling, a trend described in an upcoming book I co-authored. This refers to how patients, caregivers and others are using the Web, not only to seek health information, but to provide emotional and moral support to others. Another is the increased focus on developing health technologies — whether they are Web sites, telepresence tools, or mobile health applications — that up the empathy factor by foregrounding health’s human element.
However, while there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of healthcare, we must be realistic about its many problems. One of the most important is
related to ensuring that we do a better job of understanding who is most willing to be more engaged in their care (both on the management and financial side) and — if necessary — providing
them with tools and techniques to increase their comfort level.
As we have seen with the rollout of Obamacare, millions of people who never had to think much about the shape and scope of their health insurance were suddenly forced to deal with the consequences of no longer having access to plans that were deemed inadequate, based on the poorly explained provisions of the law. (Where were the brilliant health marketers who could have helped ensure Americans understood and were prepared for the law’s many potential consequences?)
So, to answer my question, is it possible to be optimistically realistic about healthcare’s future? Absolutely, but it requires being willing to have a balanced, but big picture perspective on where we’re headed.
I recently gave a talk focusing on the need to be optimistically realistic about healthcare’s future during an event hosted by the North Carolina Triangle chapter of Health 2.0. If you’re interested in viewing the slides I presented at the event, please click here.