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Health Index More Critical Than GDP

Well-being will become the metric for assessment of taxation, health saving schemes and insurance cover and this, in turn, will motivate individuals to make it a priority


Duality is definitive of the world we live in. At one end, profound deliberations are being held about the upsurge in lifestyle diseases across rural and urban geographies and their economic impact, and at the other, a silent transformation is taking place. It is the burgeoning well-being economy that is set to transform healthcare completely and possibly even disrupt it, in the decade ahead. 

Wellbeing is much more than the mere absence of disease; it’s more about living in the moment without threats to health, environment or our emotional state which then manifests as an elevated sense of purpose, regardless of our age, socio-economic profile or profession.

The future of the well-being business is exciting. Game-changing technology will democratise access to its means — be it AI or genomics — to evaluate propensity for disease or possibly even the ability to shape one’s genes to prevent or cure diseases. Tools such as the wearables, sleep boosting sensors, applications, medical gyms or specialised wellbeing services will all become commonplace. Organisations and brands will push the wellness agenda, co-create products with consumers and encourage the community to benefit from the resultant enhancement of productivity. 

The revolution is gathering momentum and it certainly transcends just technology; culture and mind-set too are shifting to accommodate the far-reaching impact of the wellness imperative. One of the biggest changes will happen at the workplace as the primary cause of chronic illnesses is stress, and the biggest cause of stress is work. Cognizant of this, organisational structures will witness a sea change. Moving beyond the conventional gym and yoga classes in office, innovative spatial design to encourage calmness will dominate interiors, nap-pods and standing desks will be work essentials, health screening will become a routine practice, work styles will be flexible, cycling to work will be encouraged and a supportive lifestyle system will pull it all together.

Rising costs of healthcare, ageing populations and increased life expectancy will influence and usher in regulatory changes too. Well-being will become the metric for assessment of taxation, health saving schemes and insurance cover and this, in turn, will motivate individuals to make it a priority.

In addition, there will be a concerted shift towards primordial prevention which is the prevention of risk factors themselves, beginning with requisite changes in social and environmental conditions in which these factors are observed to develop. Through a combination of public education, legislation and government policy, healthy lifestyles would be promoted, people would be encouraged to seek healthier alternatives and making these easily available would be a focus. As a case in point, non-communicable diseases like ischemic heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases are the leading causes of death and are associated with tobacco use. So imagining a future with ban on tobacco cultivation is enthusing.

From a national perspective, in the years ahead, I would assume that the barometer of success would be based on population health indices rather than the traditional GDP. Holistic population health is about addressing much more than treating diseases. It includes a continuous evaluation and action to address the physical, mental, economic, social, ecological and even spiritual health of every individual in the community.

There is no doubt that well-being holds the key to healthier, happier and sustainable communities of the future and the responsibility to nurture it lies with every one — the citizen and the government.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Magazine 28 April 2018 wellness anniversary special

Preetha Reddy

The author is vice-chairperson, Apollo Hospitals

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