We started Biomorphik to advance healthcare. It took some time to settle on exactly what that would look like, but we’re ready to start talking in more specifics. We’ve grounded ourselves as a behavioural change company, and now we want to introduce another foundational principle; pre-emptive health. It’s how we want to change the health system.
WHAT IS A PRE-EMPTIVE HEALTH SYSTEM & WHY ARE WE BUILDING IT?
Years ago I was attending a talk from a government official high in the South Australian Health Department. She said; “we don’t have a health system, we have a sickness system.”
That’s precisely what we want to change. Health and health systems have come to be defined by illness. We’ve built immense, expensive, and unsustainable systems based on late intervention in health problems. This simply can’t continue with growing populations, longer lives, and declining health from lifestyle choices.
We’re building a platform to address this problem. We’ve come up with a term for it too; pre-emptive health. It’s an important semantic shift and we wanted to ground it in a few principles.
DEFINING PRE-EMPTIVE HEALTH
A pre-emptive health system makes small, early, constant, and low resource interventions.
It’s built on a simple idea: consistent and early management of health and fitness at younger ages has a compounding effect on health later in life. Through smaller, constant, micro-interventions we can drastically improve lifetime health, reduce the need for medical interventions, and save resources for the user and health systems.
For the purpose of this explanation, we’re staying well within the field of lifestyle-related health and not delving into genetics or uncontrollable factors. Good lifestyle isn’t a panacea but it sure solves, avoids, or delays a lot of problems.
Let’s break it down into the components of intervention:
- Small: interventions will be minor. We mean really minor. A small nudge towards more health-positive behaviour done early and often enough could avoid major intervention later in life.
- Early: We want to encourage health-positive habits from as early in life as possible. The cumulative effect of redirecting someone’s health increases over a longer time period. Our platform is being designed to become part of users’ lives and give them years of value from long-term use.
- Constant: Good health, and good health outcomes take daily effort.
- Low resource: We want to save resources at every level; to the user and to the health system broadly. The total reduction in resources used over decades is potentially massive.
HOW IT’S DIFFERENT
Let’s look at how pre-emptive health changes the current systems by comparing it to direct intervention, and preventative health.
Direct, or late-stage medical intervention is addressing an immediate, significant, and present issue. A direct intervention is large impact, occurs late, and is high resource. We’re talking about saving a life from a threat right now.
Preventative health happens well earlier than direct intervention but is still acting on a present and quantifiable issue. It’s intervention level is moderate, mid-process, and medium-resource intensive. Perhaps someone is exhibiting risk signs of developing a health problem that will lead to direct intervention being necessary. A care provider then strategically tries to address the issue; referring a person onto relevant services, recommending lifestyle changes, and perhaps using mild medication. The hope is that intervention redirects that person’s path away from needing direct intervention later on. It’s redirecting a life from a likely threat.
INVESTING IN LIFESTYLE IS A MEDICAL DECISION
We’re considering every person’s lifestyle-based health is the collective sum of their habits over time. Small, sustained habits add up to have substantial health outcomes over the decades of a person’s life.
Here’s some examples of pre-emptive, lifestyle-focused health measures:
- Encouraging exercise. An app that helps users add daily exercise, then measure and store the activity, then feeds back the outcomes can build health-positive habits.
- Prompting users to take daily medications, and reminding them when medications are due to run out based on prescribed quantities. Ensuring consistency and adherence will improve health of the person and effectiveness of medications.
- Managing regular appointments with care providers. A system that encourages constant health maintenance and regular medical check-ups will change avoid preventable situations where users only look for health at the pre-emptive or direct intervention phase.
- Giving access to 3D body scanning to measure and track body composition. We want to change the dominant metric of health from overall bodyweight to body composition.
THE GOALS OF PRE-EMPTIVE HEALTH
Our goal in building a pre-emptive health platform is to:
- Improve user quality of life.
- Reduce user spend on medical treatment.
- Reduce interactions with the medical system.
Beyond those aims, we want our users to have tangibly better health than non-users within the population. That’s our ultimate proof-of-concept; that we measurably and positively improve health outcomes.
WHOLE OF SOCIETY BENEFIT
We’re aiming to improve the health of large populations with significant social benefit coming from that. Those social benefits are our primary goal, but we want to recognise the economic change we’d like to make.
We want to reduce health costs at all levels of society from the individual person, to the healthcare and insurance systems, and all the way up to Government level. Building societal health is tantamount to building societal wealth. Reducing spending on health infrastructure and services even fractionally can put billions back into the pockets of indviduals and national wealth. It’s our goal to see exponential savings made relative to the cost of using our platform.
THERE’S PLENTY MORE TO COME
We wanted to introduce pre-emptive health in simple terms through this article. We know the reality of building a platform that can successfully execute the goals above is difficult – after all, we’re doing it right now! The foundational principle grounds our company though, and we hope it becomes included into the coming decades of health care. Our success in building systems to lead longer lives means we need to go full-circle, and return to build systems for better lives.