I was honored to speak at the 2016 Cayman Islands Healthcare Conference. The entire program was open to the general public so this was not a droning professional conference. The very good information presented was balanced for consumers and professionals. I spoke about aging-in-place.
What did I learn?
Dr. C. James Hospedales caught my attention talking about Non-Communicable diseases. These are familiar but I had not thought about them as a category.
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, are collectively responsible for almost 70% of all deaths worldwide. …. The rise of NCDs has been driven by primarily four major risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets. (WHO)
Dr. Hospedales, ofa very sharp doctor who is currently head of the Caribbean Public Health Agency, helped me see the significance. Obesity, a particularly American problem, was added to the above list.
These diseases are largely about lifestyle. Behavior change is the sweet spot for low cost/high impact results. This is so interesting because it means improved health (and reduced health care expenses) are not about expensive treatments. Disease avoidance and treatment rest within us and our ability to control ourselves. It may be more important to encourage us to get regular checkups so we find cancer early, treat skin ulcers, etc. than get a more complex diagnosis and care plan. Take better care of yourself. Exercise. Eat well. Don’t smoke. Drink alcohol moderately.
What connections do I make?
(1) Encouraging self-reliance and chronic disease self-management- taking care of yourself – are, as with aging-in-place in existing homes, some of the best returns on efforts/investment we can get. We already have our most important assets to fight these conditions – ourselves and our homes. We have to use them better.
(2) Business is paying close attention to these strategies because they reduce healthcare spending. Businesses are learning what techniques motivate the right behavior in corporate wellness programs. This knowledge has potential value in many spheres. This week’s Bipartisan Policy Center program, Exploring the Role of the Business Community in Improving Health, covered the topic.
So we are already on the right path, learning how to improve health and reduce healthcare spending by encouraging better behaviors.
Proceedings of the 2016 Cayman Islands Healthcare Conference are available. I really liked presentations by the delightful Dr. Verna Brooks McKenzie speaking about menopause and the humorous Dr. David Greenberg speaking about men’s health. Both are pleasant, funny and right on point.
I also did a little research on Cayman reefs. Beautiful. I had a great time.