Creativity, Innovation and the development of new ideas happens best when you have time to step away from the everyday noise of a busy work life.
The topic of Innovation starts with a reflection on my recent past where colleagues have reached out to learn why I took a radical (innovative) change in career direction as I enter what is apparently known as the prime years b/n 45-55. Not sure if this is true, but specifically I get asked why I left all I have achieved and learned over the last 20yrs as a hospital executive. I pause, smile and thank them because they made the point for me, Hospital. It was my dream as an early careerist to someday become a hospital CEO, but as I propelled upward over the years and ultimately achieved this goal, the expectations of a hospital CEO changed as did the landscape around the position. However, I did not evolve or re-invent my mindset to recognize my values and joy of being creative went far beyond a campus. What led to my innovation and radical change was of all things my own “health.”
B/n 2019-2020, my health status descended to such an extent that it required a drastic change in my lifestyle or I was set to have a major cardiac event before 50. This was the start of my awakening and set me on a new journey where I re-discovered my passion for nutrition and fitness leading to what is called Lifestyle medicine. This medical model doesn’t appear innovative or disruptive on the surface as it’s not the latest drug therapy, non-invasive device, or predictive AI but that’s the entire point. I now question why we in Healthcare get so excited about innovation and disruption that leads to an increased cost burden on society when “health” in healthcare should be about supporting a healthy, productive and joyful life.
Some sobering stats I’ve learned this past year include as of 2017 (published in ‘20), ~2/3 of US adults have metabolic syndrome (1/3 of 65 and over have Type 2 diabetes) and 42% of all US adults are clinically obese and is predicted to exceed 50% by 2030. An increase in prevalence of Metabolic conditions such as Metabolic syndrome and Diabetes are future predictors of CV disease, cancer and Neuro/stroke events. This is mainly due to unhealthy lifestyle choices.
I want to spend a moment on Primary care because it’s the gateway to most healthcare in the US and is in deep trouble from a staffing perspective and practice model. As of 2020, 70% of all primary care visits are related to a lifestyle medical concern. Yet, less than 1/3 of primary care providers say they are adequately trained in areas of Nutrition and/or Fitness. Additionally, a good portion of primary care providers do not live a healthy lifestyle and are less likely to prescribe nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc because they neither are trained nor living it themselves. This leads to the convenience approach like many do with fast food, prescribe medication or other intervention for the issue rather than focus on the cause.
With this said, there is no doubting we will require more innovation with treatments/interventions based on the current health trajectory in the US, but will this be sustainable for our country from a financial or productivity perspective to name a couple? Time will tell.
I am excited to use my renewed energy, drive and focus on improving “health” in healthcare. The towards the causation of poor health due to unhealthy lifestyles has become my “why” because conventional medicine and solely treating the health issue due to poor lifestyle choices is not making the impact needed.
In conclusion, my aim is on “The innovation in causation of health (care) where we flip the focus from intervention and treatment to behavioral change focused on the key pillars of Lifestyle Medicine!