I recently got a chance to live stream into the Clinton Foundation’s annual “Health Matters” conference in La Quinta, CA and it was very informative and thought provoking. The conference focuses on healthcare and wellness in the USA. I’ve put together a brief overview of the day’s panel discussions to share with you so that you may see where we are at with wellness in America and what direction things are going in.
Former President Bill Clinton acted as moderator and panelists included executives from General Electric, The PGA, Humana, NantHealth, Joslin Diabetes Center and more.
* President Clinton started off by reinterating that chronic diseases account for about 70% of healthcare costs, and that 70% of chronic diseases can be cured and/or prevented by lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise. One very good statistic he pointed out is that food producers are selling slightly fewer calories per capita in the USA now, which I suppose is a good thing for overweight and obesity epidemics.
* The discussion then turned into what is preventing progress in health in the USA. It was suggested by the panel that it’s the fee-for-service model that our healthcare system is built on. We need to stop paying for procedures and pay for healthy people’s outcomes. If we did that, access to shared medical records would be optimized and that would be a giant leap forward for wellness.
* Humana’s CEO talked about how loneliness is a real health problem these days and loneliness has doubled in adults since the 1980’s. Perhaps the Internet is making people more isolated, morose and paranoid. I’ve heard there seems to be an inverse relationship between time spent on Facebook and people being unhappy. Social isolation actually impairs immune function and increases inflamation which causes disease.
* Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong of NantHealth made a major announcement at the conference. He said that it is now possible to detect cancers cells from the blood. They can now measure the protein from cancer cells and compare it to normal cells and determine what’s driving the cancer. NantHealth, big business and the unions will be rolling out a nationwide human genome project over the next few years.
* Dr. Travis stork from the show “The Doctors” talked about how drugs stimulate our rewards system and that more people are dying from prescription drug abuse than heroine and cocaine. He mentioned how mental illness is still a stigma in the USA and physicians need to ask patients more about anxiety and depression during regular visits. An unbelievable statistic he pointed out was that the USA has 5% of the worlds population, but we use 75% of the world’s medication. And he noted that 71% of people obtain drugs from a friend or a relative.
* The day ended with talk about how zip codes determine quality of life and longevity of life more than genetics. Things like community and schools really matter and access to quality foods. The term “food deserts” was used quite a lot to talk about zip codes that don’t have much access to quality food choices available. (Here in NoHo we have the weekly farmers market, tons of fitness centers and dance studios, and a variety of restuarants that serve healthy dishes, so I believe 91601 is paving the way as a healthy community model!)
Jack Witt, MS, CPT
Fitness and Health Coach
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