NOTE: This is the fourth in our week-long series on business opportunities from health reform. Yesterday I wrote about concierge medicine. Tomorrow I will talk about wellness coaching.
I covered several conferences on the topic over the last few years and have seen it attempt to become more practical.
The idea behind it is to manage wellness, not sickness. It began with the rise of genetic testing, but now encompasses the use of standard tests to create a baseline and coaching to help patients stay on it.
The classic example is that of Jeffrey Gulcher, who took one of his own genetic tests, learned he might get prostate cancer, then took his first prostate cancer test years before he needed it, was diagnosed, and then treated. The genetic test saved his life, he told me.
Early genetic testing start-ups like 23andme have obscured the reality. Their original claims, that genetic counseling could ward off disease, have been supplanted in sales pitches with the idea that it would be fun to know your ancestors.
Trouble is, in the old health care system they do. Just as adolescents reach the age of temptation, they lose access to many health services, and this is what health reform is most designed to change.
If everyone has to pay into the system, then everyone deserves services from it. Predictive health and prevention services deserve a functioning business model, health reformers like Ralph Snyderman insist, and the time to build them is now.