Preventative Healthcare Trends in 2018 & Beyond

Today and in the future, Americans need convenient, efficient, and technologically-savvy medical alternatives. Moreover, high-quality and affordable preventative care should ideally be accessible whenever and wherever it is needed — regardless of the majority party in the House or the Senate.

Health care should be a right, not a privilege. However, until U.S. legislators are able to see past lobbyists and corporate interests, we’ll be forced to make important decisions about our health with our hands tied. That means we have to go it alone and try to prevent major health problems whenever possible, since it’s too expensive to afford any major medical procedure unless you’re a millionaire — those charmed people probably aren’t reading this article, anyway.

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The first area to consider in the fight for preventative health and a strong immune system is comprehensive nutrition and attention to getting your basic needs met. Do you eat a healthy serving of fruits and vegetables, daily? If not, do you take supplements to make up the difference? What about avoiding unhealthy substances like sugar, processed foods, and alcohol?

It’s good to be aware that living in a capitalistic society means constantly being bombarded by ads for products like rich desserts, trendy brands in beer/wine/spirits, and restaurants both national and local. In short, it takes a lot of willpower to resist constant calls to indulge every whim — but it is possible! Moderation is a good word to keep in mind — especially over the holidays.

Healthy behaviors like moving, deep breathing, and adequately hydrating our bodies every day are good preventative baselines. A basic understanding of scientific and medical statistics can put diagnoses of conditions like cancer and dementia into perspective. However, studies have clearly indicated that being physically active is crucial to long term health. It can be tough during the colder winter months to want to get outside or go to the gym, but it’s not necessary to spend lots of money to stay fit over the winter. Indoor home workouts like walking in place, dancing, aerobics, meditation, and yoga can do wonders for helping us feel in control of our energy.

Regular movement and good nutrition can also help prevent bigger problems like high blood pressure, pre-diabetic blood sugar levels, stress, and gastrointestinal problems like indigestion and GERD. Antireflux surgery — otherwise known as fundoplication — mechanically reconstructs the antireflux barrier, ideally restoring the body’s natural defense mechanism. Of course, surgery should always be considered a last resort to be considered only after making dietary and lifestyle changes, with no results.

Preventative eye exams can also help your optometrist detect signs of health problems unrelated to the eyes, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, high cholesterol, and multiple sclerosis. Although many people under the age of 65 take good health for granted, basic preventative care like regular vision and dental exams can detect small problems early on before they become more serious health conditions. Whenever possible, it’s ideal to avoid prescription drugs due to the possibility of opiate addiction or side effects.

In terms of emerging medical technologies, there’s a lot happening on the big data front, including telemedicine, interoperability, electronic health record systems, the internet of things (IoT), driverless cars with health sensors, and 3D printing. In terms of advancements in diagnosis, clinicians are now able to perform liquid biopsies and vocal biomarkers.

Electronic health records (EHRs) also hold a lot of potential to transform the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare organizations by streamlining data available to different healthcare providers working with common patients. For example, one patient’s EHRs should ideally be available to pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and surgeons via the same streamlined platforms — rather than cloistered away in file cabinets and left susceptible to human error. Ideally, the coordination of care and population health will improve via the use of EHRs.

Digital healthcare resources like telehealth stand poised to transform public access to healthcare in rural areas. According to the University of Nevada, Reno, 80 percent of rural communities currently lack adequate access to qualified health professionals — including social workers, counselors, and other types of medical professionals.

Telemedicine and Technology Assisted Therapy (TAT) could change the current lack of access, helping to bridge the gap between patients and healthcare professionals. Moreover, the barriers that typically exist between aspiring healthcare professionals and educational resources only available in more metropolitan and urban areas could be bridged by digital resources, as well.

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To sum up the above points, it’s crucial to pay attention to diet and nutrition, exercise daily, balance our energies with good sleep and stress prevention, and utilize good judgement when it comes to basic preventative health care. If we make it a point to address minor problems while they’re still small, we can keep ourselves relatively healthy — recognizing, of course, that not all conditions are completely within our control (including healthcare insurance reform).

Let’s remember to tap into our preventative health resources and move our bodies this winter, rather than succumb to the temptations of hibernation (though the occasional sitcom-binge is understandable). Healthcare technology of the future holds much to look forward to — especially if our bodies are healthy, as we get older. Cheers to good health!

 

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