For too long, the U.S. healthcare industry has been focused on treating illnesses after the fact. This means that patient care is more reactive than proactive, which can lead to two major problems. The first is that healthcare issues are left to grow in severity before they’re treated, which is not optimal for the patient. The second is that more severe healthcare issues generally equate to treatment being more expensive for patients and healthcare providers.
These two issues have brought the importance of preventive healthcare to the forefront of the industry. To understand what preventive healthcare is and why it matters to patients, it’s essential to understand that preventive healthcare is a proactive approach to addressing healthcare concerns. It attempts to deal with issues before an emergency room visit is required or an illness has progressed past the point of effective treatment.
As healthcare professionals progress through their careers, pursuing advanced education, such as a Healthcare MBA, can help them stay up to date with industry trends and medical breakthroughs while tailoring their education to what will be happening in the future of healthcare.
Preventive Care Examples
Anyone interested in getting a better grasp on what preventive healthcare is should explore the many preventive care examples in the healthcare field today. The concept behind preventive healthcare is to be proactive rather than reactive, which means patients start taking advantage of the resources available to them as early as possible to avoid critical health issues. The following are some of the most common preventive care examples.
Vaccines, Screenings and Tests
The most widely known preventive care examples are vaccines, screenings and tests administered during checkups to identify and prevent health issues. The flu shot and vaccines that protect against measles, mumps, polio and COVID-19 are just a few examples of preventive healthcare measures offered in the U.S. Screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies are two preventive care examples that are critical tools in the early detection of cancer. Healthcare providers also check cholesterol levels, blood pressure and other diagnostics as a proactive measure during checkups.
Public Health and Education
Public health is the promotion of wellness through education and the encouragement of healthy behaviors. There are several public health programs — for both children and adults — that stress the importance of diet and exercise; the dangers of smoking, drugs and alcohol; and why it’s important to wash our hands. When it comes to disease and illness, public health measures are excellent examples of preventive care.
Genetic Breakthroughs and Applications
With the number of seniors in the U.S. growing dramatically, the field of genetic testing and its ability to map a patient’s future health can potentially increase life expectancy and enhance the quality of life for millions of Americans.
Doctors are increasingly using genetic testing to diagnose genetic disorders and predict the risks of developing common diseases. This approach can make a patient aware of potential health issues before it’s too late to treat them.
To test the success and viability of genetic testing as it relates to preventive healthcare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the EGAPP (Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention) initiative. It aims to “establish and test a systematic, evidence-based process for evaluating genetic tests and other applications of genomic technology that are in transition from research to clinical and public health practice.”
Not only is EGAPP crucial to advancing the science involved in genetic testing, but the information it collects will be used by healthcare providers and payers, as well as policymakers. Genetic testing as it relates to preventive healthcare must involve safe and effective procedures to realize its vast potential to help patients.
A Greater Emphasis Must Be Given to Preventive and Patient-Centered Care
The healthcare industry is already under strain, but the situation is certain to deteriorate further unless the sector places even greater emphasis on preventive and patient-centered care. This is necessary to cope with the increased demand for healthcare caused by an aging population and increased incidences of chronic conditions.
Greater preventive care will hopefully decrease chronic conditions and help people maintain good health across the age continuum. Patient-centered care should reduce pressure on the healthcare system as patients learn to manage their conditions independently, with less physician intervention.
The Importance of Research
To one day prevent illnesses and diseases that are not often diagnosed before problems arise, an incredible amount of research must be done to find links between a patient’s genetic makeup and the first signs of disease. In labs across the country, this research involves obtaining blood samples from thousands of research volunteers. The longitudinal studies involving these blood samples are where many breakthroughs happen.
It’s important to understand how the research leads to the opportunity to prevent illnesses. Whether you believe American medicine is beginning to focus on preventive healthcare because of economic or philanthropic reasons, the fact remains that physicians, hospitals and scientists are questioning the status quo. Optimizing health before problems arise is better for everyone. It’s the proactive approach.
A range of healthcare professionals can benefit from pursuing George Washington University’s Healthcare MBA degree program — from physicians aspiring to move into administration and entry-level managers looking to climb the corporate ladder to the people who are already at the top — because they have a role to play in transforming the future of healthcare.
Discover how GW’s Healthcare MBA program can provide you with the skills to be a healthcare leader.