Building a healthier and happier world

  • Posted on 06.01.2016

Building a healthier and happier world


Richard Di Benedetto

President Aetna International


I was delighted to speak at the 2015 European MedTech Forum. This event is always a great opportunity to   connect with old friends and colleagues and to be part of lively and innovative debates. This year, I had the opportunity to discuss the need for a new healthcare system in order to build a healthier world.

Improving existing healthcare systems and developing new ones is a vital part of Aetnas’s vision. The aim? To make populations and individuals healthier for longer, more economically viable and also happier.

So, in broad terms, where is healthcare today?

It’s a 60 years old rats’ maze that, according to the Institute of Medicine, wastes $800 billion every year in the US alone, and isn’t actually focused on getting people healthy. In fact, I would argue that the system results in frustrated doctors and patients and a focus on episodic care. We need to start a holistic approach focusing   on health and not just treatment.

The challenge is a big one: the cost of care worldwide continues to increase chronic disease is becoming more prevalent as nations develop and there is a growing shortage of healthcare professionals to keep up with demand.

The solution, however, is clear: a simpler healthcare system built around the customer.

We need to change the whole healthcare ecosystem and move from a medical system to an integrated health system. We also must move from paying for treatment to paying for good health and build a system designed to keep populations healthy and address the continuum of care needs. 

Our blueprint for a future healthcare system comprises five interrelated components:  

– Proper system design – analyse the needs ofpopulations using big data to provide the care that’s needed;
– Health IT – the future healthcare model incorporates sophisticated IT as a central cog to provide the data and tools to manage a populations’ health;
– Care management informed by smart data – transparent information flows between healthcare professionals, patients and others involved in providing care (such as family members). We’ll each know our care plan and how we are doing against that plan in real time – even if the plan goes beyond the hospital into the community;
– Aligned economic incentives – insurance or government payers to be aligned with providers so payment is based on overall health and not just treatment. Aligned incentives will lead to better health, better consumer experience and sustained affordability;
– Consumer engagement – including tools to find doctors, make appointments and receive reminders. Wellness tracking such as diet and exercise with apps that interact. And mobile and remote monitoring to help patients, caregivers and doctors monitor and address risk early.

But achieving this requires fresh thinking and innovation. It calls for everyone in healthcare to rally around the single goal of improving health and service while reducing costs – whether you give care, receive care, manage care, or pay for care.

The good news is that change is happening now. We’re working on, and investing in all of these areas in order to bring positive change.  At the 2015 European MedTech Forum I was pleased to meet so many like-minded people from across the healthcare spectrum, as it is only by working together that we will achieve our collective goal of building a healthier world.

Find out more about Aetna:

Richard di Benedetto  was a speaker at the European MedTech Forum 2015. His session, “Paying the medtech bill – is it value for money?” , tried to answer important questions like “how do payers expect to tackle the rising costs in healthcare? ” and “what do they think about the speed of the technological advances in the medtech arena? “

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