Many business owners are watching the new legislation around health care and wondering who's going to pay for health care and how will the costs shift? Yet that’s only one piece of the puzzle; the future of health care is about more than who pays for what.
What the media rarely seems to cover is just how dramatically health care itself is changing and what that means for small-business owners forced to get more involved in health care, whether they want to or not.
I recently covered several trends poised to change not just how health care is delivered, but what your small business will need to know to get ready for it, in my book, ePatient 2015: 15 Surprising Trends Changing The Future Of Health Care. Are you prepared for what's to come in 2014?
The Over-Quantified Self
There are now more devices than ever to track everything from how quickly you fall asleep to how many steps you have walked in an average day. All this data is creating great “feel good” statistics, but rarely translates into actionable information that ties into actual health care. As a result, people are going to start seeking more valuable integration between the information they're collecting about themselves and the world around them.
For the workplace, what this means is that your team and even your customers are more likely to be seeing ways to integrate the self-collected information they have on their devices with the real-life experiences and products they buy. As app markets, for example, continue to grow—this will offer new integration opportunities for small-business owners to tap larger markets by integrating or finding new ways to work within the ecosystem created by all these devices.
As the government and retail organizations have more access to our personal data and health history, the surveillance that is possible could be compromising our privacy—and the more scandalous stories that come out, the more customers distrust everyone. Why does this affect you? The more distrustful and concerned about privacy your customers are, the more sensitive you will need to be about those sorts of topics—even if your business has nothing at all to do with health.
The growth of social networks is changing the process of how we get information about health care and deal with health conditions we may have. Peer counseling or mentoring programs have become more and more commonplace at organizations of all sizes, but when it comes to more personal topics like health, the best support might actually come from outside your immediate circle. Whether you or one of your employees may be dealing with a health-related issue, encouraging them to seek support from other more empowered “e-patients” may be the ideal way to initially offer support.
Healthy Real Estate
The places we live and work are changing. Over the past several years, a company named Delos has been actively promoting the creation of a “Well Building Standard” designed to rate buildings based on their holistic approaches to fostering more spiritually and physically healthy environments. While your office (or home office) might not live up to many of these ambitious standards—the attention on “healthy real estate” this year will influence how businesses think about their physical spaces, and how to make them more human and attuned to the needs of the people in them.
You might have heard about “gamification” and the idea that game theory can be applied to all sorts of topics, including employee incentives and sales efforts. Health, in particular, is a space that has been increasingly influenced by the power of games.The opportunity for your business is to encourage and support your employees through this same type of gaming to become healthier and use this new health focus to drive more positive results at work.
The next two years in health care will bring more shifts than we have seen in the past decade. The concern over how this will affect the bottom lines of all types of companies is justifiably a key area of worry. Perhaps more importantly, though, understanding how health care itself is fundamentally shifting will not only help you get ready for it, but may offer an opportunity for your business to excel as well.
Rohit Bhargava is the bestselling author of four books on the future of business. He is a professor of communications at Georgetown University and founder of the Influential Marketing Group. The ePatient 2015 book is his fifth title, and the first to be published by the IdeaPress Publishing Group.
Read more articles on health care for small businesses.
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