We had a wonderful experience last week at the Health:Further conference, held at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee. It's billed as: “The annual gathering for people who believe that we can make healthcare better, together,” and a place where, “the nations leading minds convene once a year to further the dialogue on innovation in the healthcare industry.” It really lived up to these aspirations. We spoke with game-changing providers, payers, practitioners, investors, employers, and entrepreneurs from all corners of the rapidly evolving healthcare industry.
BreatheAware, of course, participated as an innovator. In an industry that constitutes 17% of annual US GDP, it's hard to sum up the breathtakingly diverse innovation that is happening. In many cases it's software and design that's creating better data, better analysis, better tools, and better patient or consumer experiences. Some apps are even working to cure diseases, literally from the palm of the user's hand. It's amazing, really, and we were proud to be part of it.
We noted how preventative, practical self-care may have the largest opportunity to change population health outcomes because half of health is directly due to behavior. The industry is still struggling to create proactive behavioral change products that are engaging, "sticky" and truly effective. So, the cutting edge is succeeding with simple behavior modification: getting users to walk more, eat better, breathe properly, participate in their community, and take care of chronic issues. Health:Further attendees have seen how we have a good chance of cracking the code in the years ahead.
A second thing we noted is that no one effectively addresses daily long-term stress, though it's literally everywhere. Stress oriented self-care is just not integrated into the healthcare ecosystem. Given the prominence of stress in creating disease, delaying recovery, and driving longevity and happiness (eg. de-stressing is one of the Power 9 Blue Zone habits), it is somewhat shocking to think about. A few firms talk about addressing "underlying causes of stress", which to those who know about stress is impractical, and even antiquated. You can't resolve most underlying issues, and even if you do new stressors keep popping up! It's like saying we should only use Freudian psychotherapy and not embrace treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy that don't focus much on an underlying cause.
All of this leaves us energized! We see the impact BreatheAware will have as our footprint expands. And we saw a thousand reasons for great optimism about the future. Patient-centered healthcare means many things, but one thing that's clear is we will all need to take greater control of our behavior and self-care if we're going to lead change in global health.