With the announcement this past week of the sale of The Prevention Plan through Sam’s Club and the significant interest this created on national television (see USPM in the News on the right to view some of the coverage), print and social media sites, there was bound to be some confusion as thousands of people read about or saw the announcements and follow-on stories.
Because there is not a program like this in the marketplace, many people are trying to fit it in a familiar box of labels. There have been several misconceptions, not to mention a few outright wrongheaded statements, so I would like to provide more information in case it’s helpful to those who intuitively understand that Ben Franklin had it right…an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
SCIENCE: The Prevention Plan, is a fully accredited (NCQA and URAC), science-based health service that provides knowledge, instructions, advocacy and support to members in thousands of U.S. cities in all 50 states and the United Kingdom.
The Prevention Plan is physician designed and our renowned advisory board includes some of the country’s foremost medical, preventive medicine and wellness experts. For a list of some of them you can click here (International Advisory Board).
AMERICAN: All services to our U.S. customers are provided by the American-based U.S. Preventive Medicine staff (We have some staff in the United Kingdom for our program over there). All information is HIPAA compliant and totally confidential.
A recently released study in a peer-reviewed journal, Population Health Management, highlights the results The Prevention Plan has achieved in reducing many of the most common and threatening risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar and stress. You can read about this study on our website (Prevention Plan Study in Population Health Management) and I posted on it before.
TESTED: It has been in the market for over 2 years, sold primarily to employers of all sizes from those with just a handful of employees to those with tens of thousands.
INDEPENDENT: It is not an insurance product. Some of the websites had headlines stating “insurance product” or some such language and this is not correct.
WHAT THE MEMBER GETS: The Prevention Plan is a comprehensive preventive medicine wellness program that provides a personalized, secure website with online education and action programs, a lab panel, a list of recommended screenings that has been scientifically proven to improve the health of its members through the clinically sound pillars of preventive medicine and much more. In addition, the member can work with a health coach, many of whom are registered nurses, who are experts in prevention and can help the member reach their health goals.
WHAT IT DOES: This is a program to help people stay healthy and/or improve their health by understanding their risks and giving them a personalized plan, tools and services to address those risks before they lead to serious and costly diseases. As I have discussed previously on this blog, to bend the trend of rising health care costs, we have to improve the health of our population.
The Prevention Plan is designed to:
- Keep the healthy people healthy and/or improve their health by reducing health risks
- Find risk factors early
- Manage chronic conditions to improve health outcomes
SUPPORTS PHYSICIANS: The program complements, but does not take the place of, the care provided by the individual’s physician. The average person, even those with a chronic disease, spend just a few hours a year with their doctor. The real issue is what do they do when they are not in the office, do they follow-through with the physician recommendations, did they understand them, fill their prescriptions, take them appropriately, eat right, exercise more, stop smoking, get their screening? Adherence to taking medications, following through with physician direction, eating right, exercise etc. are all known to be problematic.
BOTTOM LINE: Only 1 in 4 Americans between the ages of 50 – 64 get a core set of recommended preventive screenings, we have a growing obesity problem, and diabetes and heart disease are increasing at an alarming rate.
All of these and more are part of the reason why we see a population with a growing prevalence of preventable chronic diseases, the main driver of our burgeoning health expenditures. It is this area we focus on by giving the individual additional knowledge regarding their own health status, tools to take action and coaching services to provide motivation among other things. Understanding health care, what it means, and where you stand can be a very difficult and complex problems. We can’t always access a physician and for some of these areas other options for delivery and or support may in fact be better.
The reality is that health care costs continue to increase and for many of us it is resulting in increased insurance premiums/copays, reduced coverage and even lost coverage. At the same time people are less healthy than ever due to factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, poor diets and others. Our families, our companies and our country cannot sustain this wave of escalating costs coupled with worsening health status. The only real solution is to improve the health of the population thereby preventing many of these preventable diseases from forming in the first place.
How’s this for some data regarding the importance of lifestyle,
What can Lifestyle do? (from a presentation by David Katz, MD)
- ▪ 80% reduction in heart disease
- ▪ 90% reduction in diabetes
- ▪ 60% reduction in cancers
Ford ES, Bergmann MM, Kröger J, Schienkiewitz A, Weikert C, Boeing H. Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Aug 10;169(15):1355-62
Katz DL. Life and death, knowledge and power: why knowing what matters is not what’s the matter. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Aug 10;169(15):1362-3)
This is lifestyle, not medicine. One step in working towards attaining these results requires each of us to take personal responsibility for our own health. Having support services such as The Prevention Plan to help us in this complex area can assist many individuals to achieve success.