Funding health and wellness through a balanced portfolio

By | May 23, 2018

Investment strategies come in various forms and fashions. But the common thread among them all is the desire to have a balanced portfolio, creating the greatest growth and wealth over time. It is interesting to think about the investment strategies of our health and wellbeing in the same manner.

Currently, we heavily invest in certain areas. There is nowhere in the world I would rather have an acute, life-threatening event or illness than here in the United States. However, when it comes to viewing positive results as societal health and wellbeing, we lag when compared to other countries. Our system has concentrated on improving outcomes from an episodic perspective rather than a longitudinal viewpoint. Funding the portions of our portfolio in areas of social services, wellness, behavioral changes, holistic care, etc., have not received the same level of focus as a single source investment.

In business, it’s natural that countless professionals and organizations devote their focus and orientation to the particular job they do and orient their financial models for delivering their services. But in healthcare, we have to think differently. A more balanced approach would shift from such thinking to what is the utmost significant problem needing to be solved, and how do we spend time, energy, and resources towards obtaining those results. Using this frame of reference requires a different definition of success. No longer will I be focused on what I do, but instead on my concentration will shift to the totality of an individual’s health and wellness. Whether I am a physician, an institution, a community service, a government, or even a research entity, this concept remains valid.

From a portfolio management perspective, deciding the funding ratios of certain investments depends not only on their relationship to each other and but also on the overall goals of the portfolio. A health portfolio may be viewed in the same manner. Total social budgeting would allow for such an approach when contemplating the needed societal resources. Policy creation would elevate to a new and broader perspective. Care at the individual and local level would define what they do and how they do it differently with an eye on balance.

Investment strategies would change. Innovation would occur in areas that historically have been underappreciated. Return on investments which drive numerous decisions would be altered, as the definition of performance would be much broader.

Is this approach straightforward? Absolutely not, we simply are not there yet. However, the complexity and polarity are not relevant deterrents. Change requires common purpose at the highest level. If there is not a point of agreement, the journey is impossible. But we must continue to force the question concerning the initiation point. What do we all agree on at a fundamental level? Once those conversations initiate and evolve, only then will we begin to progress. Undoubtedly, chewing at the edges will occur and must continue. However, we need to reflect on disruptive ways to deliver on success. Disruption does not happen overnight. As healthcare professionals, we owe it to those we serve and ourselves to lead such conversations and actions.