Healthcare Behavior?


November 8, 2017

By Joseph Reinke, CFA, CEO of FitBUX

I recently attended the Ascend Conference in Washington D.C.  One talk in particular got me thinking and I wanted to put this out to the PT world to get your thoughts.  During the conference, WebPT CEO Nancy Ham interviewed Karen DeSalvo who is the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

During the talk, Karen brought up a few interesting points:

1) In 2015, the U.S. spent $3.2 trillion on healthcare.
2) Karen quoted from research that there are three primary categories that contribute to health outcomes: Healthcare, Genetics, Social/Environmental/Behavioral Factors.
3) 90% of the $3.2 trillion spent is on healthcare yet only 20% of outcomes are determined by healthcare.
4) Only 9% of the $3.2 trillion is spent on behavioral factors yet behavioral factors attribute to 60% of outcomes.

While in college, we had a sports psychologist work with us. Ever since I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about behavior and psychology so hearing that behavioral factors attribute 60% to outcomes I was intrigued.

From an outsiders view point, it appears as though our education system doesn’t reflect these numbers.  What I mean is that the super majority of the curriculum is geared towards healthcare.  I’m not saying to reduce the number of health care courses because after all, that is what you are going to school for…to be a medical professional.

However, the point I’m making is the behavioral/psychology part of education as part of being a health care professional seems to be seriously deficient.  If you are serious about really setting yourself apart and making a difference this may be one area you can research yourself without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Behavioral factors can be broken up into many subcategories such as the words we use to influence behavior, body language, and environment.  Learning these behavioral factors can give you the ability to influence patients to do their home exercise plans, convince doctors that PT is the way to go, or pick the right colors for your website/clinic that stimulates the correct mood of your target audience and patients.

This post is not to provide answers but to invoke thought and discussion among the professionals that work in the industry.  What has worked for you? What hasn’t?  Interested in learning more? I have included on the right hand side a few books that I have read that I highly recommend if you want to start educating yourself on behavioral factors.

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  • Thanks for sharing. It does not surprise me behavior plays such a major role in outcomes. Communication and therapeutic alliances shape behavior in many ways. The great irony is both concepts were born around 300AD when Hippocrates created the Hippocratic School of Medicine in Kos. As neuroscience continues to evolve I think we are starting to see a reemergence of the ideas. An entire business could be made consulting health professionals on the above. If you’re interested I can send you a presentation I gave on how words shapes behaviors and alter outcomes.

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