The discourse on our healthcare system orbits around insurance and specifically the cost of medical treatments. As I think more about this I grow increasingly more confused by our focus on lagging indicators of health. IE: if you’re sick, it indicates that something has gone wrong… in the past. To me this indicates that our focus should be just as much, if not more so, focused on how we take proactive steps to reduce the likelihood of negative medical outcomes.
I’m not talking about treatments after a diagnoses. Rather, focusing on healthy living and preventative actions people can take to reduce the likelihood of getting common illnesses that lead to large expenses and death. Would this not drive down the cost of insurance?
As I’ve been thinking on this topic I came across a podcast called Exponential Wisdom which covers many cutting edge and frontier topics. One such topic is Human Longevity Inc. a project launched by Peter Diamandis. The initiative focuses on using genetic sequencing and data analytics techniques measure and understand the human genome and how it impacts medical outcomes. By focusing on potential illnesses related to our genes they hope to get a better understanding of how to proactively address problems before they arise and ultimately help our bodies age. The hope is that by using these methods, scientists can not only determine what causes ailments and develop proactive initiatives for people but ultimately to discover methods of prolonging life.
We currently provide treatments only when symptoms present. The HLI initiative seeks to understand how to implement proactive treatments prior to becoming symptomatic.
Their novel approach sequences an individuals genome to understand the unique health risks and develops a proactive regime of activities and lifestyle choices to prevent the risks from manifesting. In this way, they personalize care on an individual level and address risk on the front end of life rather than relying on insurance and symptom based treatment that happens on the backend of life.
Simultaneously, while working at the micro level to construct individual best practices unique to each patient, the HLI initiative is focused on aggregating their data to source macro level discoveries.
What’s fascinating about the Exponential Wisdom podcast, HLI and Diamandis is how they make the concept of immortality feel so real. It’s forced me to look at a lot of my day to day habits and processes and discover a lot of self sabotage (for lack of a better way of putting it). Meaning that if I wanted to live forever I am not currently doing myself any favors.
While I don’t have ambitions to live forever I do have the awareness to understand that the decisions I make now in my 30’s will have a lasting impact on my body. Watching family members age and deal with the consequences of their life choices on their health has provided me with a much needed perspective on health.
The systems I put in place to make the right healthy choices now will have significant compounding consequences over time. It seems best to try and manufacture a life that can be enjoyed but also preserves as much longevity for myself as possible. In the event of unexpected injury or illness, at the very least I will be as healthy as possible to face those challenges.
The final point is that by taking proactive and personal responsibility for my health I can in some way control the longterm costs of my health. If society shifted from a financial risk management perspective to one of proactive health we could greatly reduce the financial burden of the current healthcare industry.