Poor Human Behavior Patterns Contribute to Chronic Disease: Can Behavior Change?

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For the first time in human history, preventable, chronic disease now kills more people than infectious disease.   If 3 out of 4 Americans will die prematurely from a condition that is mostly related to lifestyle, to habit, or to circumstance, is the real future of healthcare for 75% of us in behavior change, not traditional medicine?

Is there a way to reverse this trend and, if so, who will pay for it?   According to a report from the Dymedix Corporation, almost half of all Americans who have health insurance have it from an employer.   The report states "that employee-sponsored health insurance makes up approximately 45 percent of healthcare coverage in the United States, and this percentage has been slowly declining over the past few years.  For those American companies that do offer healthcare coverage, the rising premium rates they have to pay is not financially sustainable.  One of the major proposals implemented by U.S. companies that offer healthcare insurance to their  employees is health and wellness programs. These companies realize that the only way they are going to be able to continue to offer health insurance is to transform and employ a population that is health conscious. Plans have been implemented to promote health and wellness by providing financial incentives to employees to engage in these types of activities to decrease the prevalence of conditions that contribute to long-term illnesses.   Health and wellness programs are evolving, and the collaborations between employers and external entities are growing faster than healthcare premiums. These collaborations that support a healthy workforce are striving to reduce direct and indirect healthcare costs, improve employee productivity and teach a healthier lifestyle. Health and wellness programs are targeting the complete person, not just a specific disease or chronic condition. Although there are individualized goals, optimal health plans target employee’s mental, physical, emotional and financial well-being."

At AprilAge, we spend a lot of time working with companies seeking tools for lifestyle behavior modification.    As cited in the Dymedix report, "human behavior patterns that promote a poor diet, lack of physical activity or prolonged substance use have contributed to the chronic disease state across the United States and compound the complexity of long-term case management. Research has shown that tobacco use continues to be one of the top causes of preventable deaths across the U.S., followed by excessive alcohol intake and obesity. Detrimental behavioral patterns also appear when it comes to compliance with treatment regimens as well as adherence to medication prescriptions."

So how does the APRIL® visualization software help in behavior modification?  APRIL® is currently used by more than 500 health providers, educators and insurers in more than 25 countries as a tool for health education about chronic disease prevention and behavior modification.  APRIL® helps them demonstrate to their patients and clients the consequences of certain health and lifestyle choices (e.g. obesity, smoking, heavy sun exposure).  Our clients tell us it works because it uses the best motivator ever created - a person's appearance.

Image courtesy of AprilAge Inc.  Demonstrates facial aging showing natural aging, smoking, obesity, and heavy sun exposure.