Disease prevention as a service: bringing better health directly to consumers

Disease prevention as a service: bringing better health directly to consumers

In cybersecurity, prevention is just as important as protection. Prevention can help prevent an attack before it happens. Some cyber companies even offer “prevention as a service” solutions designed to intercept cyber threats.

In the health field, prevention has always been vital. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ask critical questions. First, how do we prevent another pandemic? And second, how do we prevent the most vulnerable populations from suffering the impacts of a disease like COVID-19?

The people most affected by COVID-19 are those with underlying chronic diseases such as diabetes, COPD and cardiovascular diseases. The mortality rate from COVID-19 among this population is significantly higher.

[Read more: Embracing new digital tools]

One way to keep all patients safer in the future is to continuously monitor health metrics. Prevention as a service in healthcare is about monitoring everyday biomarkers that reveal important clues about an individual’s health and ultimately prevent chronic conditions from escalating into a serious state without being noticed.

To do this effectively, we need to improve the range of biomarkers detected and measured by wearable devices. A wearable device, for example, should be able to monitor multiple biomarkers, including core body temperature, blood pressure, body hydration, alcohol, lactose, and glucose trends, among others. This is how we can shed light on a person’s health and alert patients early to multiple disease states.

retail health care

In the future, the key players in prevention-as-a-service could be retail giants like Walgreens and CVS, rather than traditional healthcare providers like clinics and hospitals.

The role of retailers such as these is already rapidly changing as they provide more primary care services that have historically been the exclusive purview of health care providers. Delivering flu shots to these businesses was the first step.

Today, the role of the retail giants in delivering COVID-19 vaccines has raised their profile and promises to strengthen their health relationship with consumers. The natural next step is to expand your patient engagement to the deeper role of health care providers.

[Read more: Diabetes management gets some high-tech help]

This is already starting to happen. Walgreens is opening dozens of full-service clinics. CVS is in the process of implementing a HealthHUB fleet in its stores. And Walmart has launched dozens of freestanding health care centers offering primary care and urgent care services.

These retailers have existing patient relationships and a widespread physical footprint, so accessibility already exists. And due to their size and commercial nature, they often have more advanced technology infrastructures. This gives them an advantage over local healthcare providers because they can more seamlessly integrate rich patient engagement tools into their digital environment.

Diagnostic tests are also moving closer to where patients live. Instead of going to a medical lab for a blood test and waiting days for the results, you can now go to a Walgreens to get tested, have it analyzed by a doctor through a telehealth system, and then get your prescription, all in a matter of minutes.

Now fast forward five years. What if we all had a small, non-invasive wearable device that continuously tracks a wide range of biomarkers and monitors our overall health throughout the day? What if we could all get instant alerts and early warnings if something goes wrong, like a sudden spike in thyroid levels or worrying changes in blood oxygen levels?

[Read more: Overcoming obstacles: Helping pharmacists’ roles evolve in response to COVID-19’s challenges]

That is true prevention as a service. In this world, it is possible to warn patients about specific diseases and take appropriate preventative measures before diseases can become established.

Retail giants are key enablers here because they have immediate access to consumers and can drive behavioral change by seamlessly providing data-rich wearable devices directly to consumers. As consumer health changes, these retailers could proactively ship the right medications at the right time, further strengthening preventive care.

Boldly go where healthcare hasn’t gone before

In the future, wearable health devices could create a unique spectral fingerprint for each individual, and researchers could begin to link spectral fingerprints to specific disease states. As the technology matures, these devices could track more sensors and biomarkers to reveal a complete picture of an individual’s current health and provide valuable insights into future health through predictive analytics.

Leave a Comment