PREVENTIVE CARE AS FUTURE HEALTHCARE BUSINESS MODEL
The importance of healthcare prevention has been recognized many centuries ago. As the Chinese Emperor Ching once said “The sages did not treat those who were ill; they instruct those who weren’t. To administer medicine to disease which have already developed, is comparable to the behavior of those who forge weapons only after being engaged in battle”. One cannot help but ask: Aren’t these actions too late? This quote attribution from the late Emperor 4,500 years ago gave us an insight of the importance of healthcare prevention.
While many events have contributed to the progress and advancement of healthcare medicine throughout the years, the framework of modern preventive healthcare has been recognized as early as the 1900s. The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) was initially founded in 1954 with the sole purpose of committing towards research and study of preventive care. Medical professionals and scholars were dedicated to explore and understand the importance of preventive care long before the advent of scientific investigation and advanced health technologies.
Preventive healthcare is a pro-active approach towards health. The framework focuses on detection, prevention and awareness on health related issues before it evolves into major health complications. This framework might be familiar to the general population as “routine care”, whereby it focuses on healthy individuals rather than those who have already been diagnosed. The concept of preventive healthcare is no stranger to our modern society as healthcare is the core of every healthcare system in the world. Although healthcare as a topic has surged in popularity in Malaysia for the past few years, so has the rates of chronic diseases.
According to the Ministry of Health, heart disease makes up 15.6% of Malaysia’s general population in 2018, and the percentage of obesity in Malaysians has also increase from 2005 – 2015 from 46% to 56% with women being the majority. Although the rate of non-communicable diseases are currently a major cause of death in many countries, preventive healthcare is undoubtedly an actionable and effective long-term solution. Apart from potentially saving millions of dollars, preventive healthcare provides opportunity for individuals and families to be able to afford better quality of life.
However, is it possible for healthcare organizations to adopt this framework as their primary form of business strategy? How would a large scale preventive healthcare appear if it is widely adopted internationally whilst bearing resemblance to the current interventionist model? So, how do we start? Where do we start? But more importantly, can it be done? In order for private healthcare organizations to embrace and adopt preventive healthcare model, we should first lay out a clear blueprint of what preventive healthcare is and what are the credible areas to begin.
Conventional healthcare was built on addressing the needs of acute illness and chronic diseases. Particularly, business strategies were designed for ‘sick care’ and the profitability of the industry has evolved around individuals needing to visit the hospitals. Scilicet, if you are healthy, you are not the source of profit. Within the economic structure, the driver of profit is the overuse of healthcare facilities and services; and since healthy individuals does not require ‘sick care’, the industry loses their economic appeal. This model has been called for change and the urgency to change has been significant during this unprecedented time of COVOD-19 pandemic as the delay to this major change could bring about incredibly disruptive consequences to the healthcare industry.
The private healthcare industry has been mold and shape by the ever growing need of patients demanding efficient, affordable and comprehensive health interventions which in turn has sadly driven the business into the current state of industrialized, interventionist and profit driven healthcare system. Most significantly, professionals within the health industry has started to be very vocal with regards to the current issue whilst demonstrating their awareness and concern. Nonetheless, an awareness does not always signify the solution to the underlying problems. In my humble opinion, I believe the determination to adopt preventive healthcare model as the future business strategy in private healthcare organization is very much possible and the first step of doing so is to encourage various professional from different disciplines to demonstrate an effective workable preventive healthcare model with the support of healthcare organizations.
Therefore, the answer is YES! Preventive care is and should be the future business model of every healthcare organization as it is the responsibility of healthcare organizations to keep the community healthy long-term. Private healthcare industry are strongly encouraged to venture and consider preventive healthcare as their primary business strategy because this new approach has proven that the industry and community can prosper when individuals are healthy, not sick. Preventive healthcare model aims to aid in the prevention of increasing non-communicable diseases through ongoing health maintenance, decrease financial burdens, improve quality of life and extends ‘healthy years’ of an individual.