TED Conversations

Christina Nesheva

GlaxoSmithKline plc


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What is the future of healthcare? How can it become health care vs sickness treatment? What role do technology and innovation play?

Healthcare costs are rising, the population is aging and medical needs are greater than ever. How can patients receive better quality care at an affordable price? How can we leverage technology to provide better and more affordable healthcare around the world?


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  • Oct 17 2011: Christina,

    Your opening questions addressed a very important point which is missing in the discussion. Healthcare - caring of people in order to keep them healthy VS sickness treatment - remedies when health does not do its job. OK, there are diseases which attack healthy people too, but the bulk of the general practice is remedies to bad habits and poor health. Obesity related illnesses are an example of poor choices made by people - and I think it is the responsibility of health professionals to help people keep health.

    This is just an early idea and there are many finer points to be considered to be qualified as a potential proposal. What if, just what if, doctors are paid on number of people they can keep healthy? Say a local doctor is paid a fixed sum to look after 1000 people in an area. If anyone is sick, the doctor has to treat the illness, no additional fee except in situation where the illness are preventable. But if all 1000 people are well and healthy, the doctor can have all his/her time doing "nothing" and yet still get paid.

    The focus on treating sickness instead of keeping people healthy has missed the most important point in HEALTH CARE. It is about HEALTH, not illness nor its treatment! Yes, there are unlucky situations that we may have illnesses or diseases which are unrelated to the state of health. but If we are healthy, our immune system should protect us from a large number of avoidable illness. Sickness treatment is the complementary part (a smaller part) of health care.
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      Oct 18 2011: Your thoughts around health care and not sickness treatment resonate strongly. We take health for granted (in most cases) and as a result we are focused on restoring health when we lose it rather than making sure that we do not lose our heatlh in the first place. We definitely need the sickness treatment but the question is how can we can raise the importance of prevention, how can prevention become one of the key objectives of the healthcare system and then how can we get all participants to be aligned in the achivement of that objectives.

      I think it is encouraging that more and more people are starting to think about prevention but more remains to be done.
      • Oct 18 2011: Christina,

        When we are healthy, we take it for granted. Many do not pay particular attention to maintaining health. When illness strikes, it suddenly comes into focus the importance of health. The current problem of chronic disease is EXACTLY because the impact on our lives is in the "future" and there are always more "urgent" priority at hand.

        The first thing that comes to mind is education. We need a public awareness that health is the most important asset anyone can have. Without health, there is no future.

        The "health education" must include all the importance of nutrition, adequate exercise and mental health. Obviously it is easy said than done.

        Money makes the world goes round. If there is money to be made in keeping people healthy, there will be people willing to find ways to earn that money. Look at the number of fitness companies, weight lost companies and the like. When the public understands health is an asset which needs maintaining, there will be people willing to pay for professional to help them keep healthy.

        Calories in the supermarket are cheap, nutrition is expensive. In the time of economic crisis, I'm afraid the situation will get worse before getting better.
      • Oct 19 2011: Most people focus on prevention by focusing on early detection. It is more important to actively develop a higher state of health. This is the definition of wellness.
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        Oct 20 2011: Well said Christina.

        There is a direct cause and effect regarding the alarming increase in cases of degenerative diseases directly attributed to lifestyle choices. The challenge is encouraging people to make healthy decisions today that have positive health outcomes many decades into the future.

        Generally, humans are short-sighted: why forgo the instant ecstasy of that second or third serving of chocolate cake, or the joy of unprotected sex, when the rewards of restraint are so distant? We can’t simply address the “demand” on our health care system without addressing the root cause of its “supply” issue.

        Rewarding people today for health choices that have future positive outcomes is how “Behavioral Economics” is being leveraged with success around the world.

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