Fighting Fire with Medicine

Harry Kim | October 8, 2020

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Harry Kim Headshot HubSpotA fire burning out of control and 10 hoses to battle it. Why would you use just one? 

As a California native, a fire metaphor needs no imagination... the health crisis facing our country is raging.

COVID-19 is ripping the fabric of our society and consuming all the oxygen of our healthcare agenda. But it masks the real threat; the out-of-control fire of chronic disease affecting 1 in 4 adults (one chronic condition) and 1 in 6 adults (multiple chronic conditions). Chronic disease management already represents over 75 percent of our massive $3.6 trillion healthcare spend... and now offers clear line of sight to bankrupting our society. Our new norm is accelerating disease progression and deteriorating mental health; amplifying the ripple effect into families and entire communities. 

In the U.S. we operate a “sick care” model that reacts to conditions, pushes expensive procedures, and promotes medications often with unintentional consequences. Chronic (defined in the context of health) is “having an illness persisting for a long time or constantly recurring”. Almost by definition, our aim is to manage conditions, slow the rate of progression, and keep bad things from happening. Perhaps this is because medical care impacts just 10 percent of an individual’s overall health condition. So yes, one hose can slow the spread, but old fire still burns as new ones take hold.  

The other 90 percent (nine hoses) are anchored in a patient’s lifestyle, environment and genetics. Of these, lifestyle contributes to over half of an individual’s health condition. Beyond academic papers, we know this to be inherently true as we make hundreds of health-related decisions every day. Should I eat the bagel or fruit, should I take the elevator or stairs, should I take a moment to breathe. Over the past generation, lifestyle has become the disease… and modern medicine alone can’t fix it.   

The innate human condition is to survive and when possible thrive. Our culture, our identity, and our heroes are defined by remarkable feats under extraordinary situations. The application of human potential to fight disease is more powerful than a pill. By tapping our personal, intrinsic motivations, we find real purpose to make sustainable lifestyle changes. It's in all of us... a father's promise to walk his daughter down the aisle; the bucket list hanging on our mirror; the thought of being a burden to our children; the fear of moving from my home to "a home".  The science is simple; empower people to reach their personal goals and the side effect is better health.

As creatures of habit, we get stuck in patterns and behaviors. Many of us need help to change our path and get on track to where we already want to go. At inHealth, we have demonstrated that lifestyle is medicine, blockbuster medicine. We call it Lifestyle Therapeutics: a clinically proven, digital therapy that unlocks the motivations within each of us to turn on more hoses to fight, contain, and put out the health fires consuming our lives. It meets people where they are and is tailored to help them achieve their life goals. It works as an extension to traditional care... complementing providers, health plans, and medical device companies. 

Sure, it is backed by years of research, real-world applications, and clinical trials. Yes, it can be prescribed by providers and reimbursed by health plans. And cool, we use digital technologies like telehealth and remote patient monitoring to deliver it. But boil it all down; it’s about helping individuals become their best self. 

Together, we tap new hoses to put health fires to bed.  Let's go, it's time.