It doesn’t make sense, right? How can going to the doctor for your yearly visit save you money? You know for sure that you will have to pay your copay or deductible expense. The doc will probably find your high cholesterol issues (thanks Mom and Dad) and prescribe you some sort of medication. Then he’ll remind you that it is important to have a colonoscopy now that you’re 50.
All of those items will have you paying medical bills for the next six months and make your premiums climb even higher. And that is just you; what about all of the employees and their regular health care usage. How can this annual visit save you money? It just seems like dollar after dollar is being spent on health care. You’re right, but is it being spent on the right health care? That’s the big question.
I’ve already discussed a lot of ideas to reduce your health care premiums by looking at your plans and empowering your employees. Today we are going to talk about you. We want you to be healthy, so you can continue to grow your business.
Routine health care is one of the biggest opportunities in pushing down costs and improving the outcomes of care being delivered. Why? Because those routine visits let you and your doctors take a good, hard look at your health. It boils down to four big issues: 1) identifying current health concerns, 2) discussing potential health concerns, 3) developing a care plan that is clear and consistent, and 4) checking progress on previous care plans and altering for improvement. You shouldn’t look at your doctor as a money pit but rather a lifelong investment that you can choose how long you’re going to pay.
Identifying Current Health Concerns – This is one of the biggest ways that your doctor can increase the possibility of a positive health care outcome and reduce the long-term cost of your care. Let’s take an example that is very relatable for us or for our spouses: breast cancer. One of the keys to having a successful outcome to breast cancer is an early diagnosis.
This chart shows how dramatically the survival rate is improved and the cost decreased by identifying breast cancer at stage I versus stage IV. So my point is pretty simple: By getting the routine visits and screenings that you need now, you will improve the overall likelihood of a long and healthy life and have some extra dollars to spend as you enjoy those years.
Discussing Potential Health Concerns – Your doctor already knows the health care challenges that you will face as you grow older. A simple discussion with your doctor during one of your routine visits as to what you should expect over the next five years can really help you in preparing for what comes next. Simple preparations or lifestyle changes can alleviate many of these issues before they ever arise. Having an apple instead of a candy bar can reduce your risk for heart troubles. Or making sure you get enough sleep at night can prevent many other health issues. The old saying that “Knowledge is Power” is really appropriate as it relates to your health. Don’t be afraid of what comes next; embrace it and make decisions now that will last a lifetime.
Developing a Care Plan That Is Clear and Consistent – With the invention of GPS mapping, you don’t use the old Rand McNally much anymore. But that old map was great for identifying how you were going to get to your favorite vacation spot or the big new-business meeting. Similarly, each year you need to create a plan for what you are going to do to stay healthy. Working with your doctor at your routine visits, you can come up with a simple list of items that you are going to attack over the next year. I strongly suggest that you write this plan down and put it somewhere you can see it. Just as the map sat in the seat next to dad on your trips, you need a health care plan that you can easily see to keep you consistently on the right path.
Checking Progress and Plans and Altering for Improvement – Your health along with your business is always evolving. You need to occasionally step back and gain perspective on where you’ve been, how you arrived there, and where you are going next. Your routine physical is a great time to take advantage of that opportunity. Just as you should update your iPhone or computer every once in a while, your yearly visit with your doctor is the opportunity to make an assessment of how you are doing and update what you should work on next. Your doctor is your partner in your health. They want to see you well. By taking time to see him or her, you can take the steps necessary to improve the overall quality of your health and your life.
Investing in your personal health, just as you do your business, will pay big dividends in terms of your long-term well-being and finances. Wilmington Health is taking a proactive approach to helping our patients get the routine care and screenings they need through outreach activities. But the final decision to go to the doctor really is in your hands. So make sure that you get your own physical scheduled and encourage your employees to do the same. It’s simple, it’s important, and it can have tremendous impact on the bottom line.
Jeff James is the chief executive officer at Wilmington Health and part of the team of providers and staff driving change in the health care system to reduce cost, improve quality and enhance the patient experience. Since 1971, Wilmington Health has been committed to the care and health of its community in Wilmington as well as all of southeastern North Carolina. Wilmington Health is structured as a multispecialty clinic with primary care providers integrated into the system. In this way, Wilmington Health is able to provide a comprehensive and coordinated approach to the care of all its patients. For more information go to http://www.wilmingtonhealth.com/compare.
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