Imagine a nation where wellcare is the standard for all people and the healthcare system is rewarded for identifying and addressing lifestyle, environmental and biological traits that put us at risk for disease.
The concept is called precision medicine, and it may actually be more than a pipe dream for our Baby Boom generation and those who come after us if the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has its way.
Lifestyle choices, nutrition, environmental exposures, vocations, and more leave doctors scrambling to administer care and drugs to a society being eaten alive by chronic disease.
Precision medicine is individualized medicine, rather than the one-pill-cures-all approach that we experience all too often today. The goal is to guide people to strategies for staying healthy, rather than rely solely on treatment after we are sick.
Leading the Wellcare Effort
The All of Us Research Program is a massive, 10-year initiative launched in 2016 by the NIH to recruit 1 million or more Americans willing to share their health history in an effort to improve health and shift the paradigm of sickcare. The broad mission is to speed up healthcare research breakthroughs.
Scientists need size and scope to do that. With this statistically meaningful pool of participants, they can begin to do some pretty cool stuff. They’ll look for ways to measure risk factors for disease based on environmental exposures, genetic factors and links between the two. They’ll delve into biological markers that may signal an increased risk for developing common diseases.
There is so much more we can do to promote the healthy state of a human body, and I believe this project represents the golden shovel in the dirt for a new foundation of wellcare.
Prevention is Key to Health & Longevity
When we take a peek at the statistics pertaining to chronic disease, the numbers are jaw-dropping. Nearly half of all American adults have at least one chronic condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It may be heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, obesity, cancer, arthritis or another disease.
Here’s the rub. In most cases, these diseases are highly preventable, lifestyle-related afflictions. We’ve actually brought this on ourselves. Lack of exercise, too much salt in our diets, poor nutrition, smoking, drinking – you name it, we’ve done it.
The costs are out of control, which push up healthcare premiums and out-of-pocket costs for all of us. Did you know that 86% of the nation’s $2.7 trillion annual healthcare expenses are for people with chronic conditions?
We know what to do intuitively and intellectually to avoid chronic disease. The information database overfloweth with edicts, advice, orders, pleas and warnings. If you don’t do this, you’ll get that horrible disease and it will kill you. But why are so many people not hearing the messages and taking action?
Buried under all of these numbers is hope. We have the power to affect significant change and turn some of this around. As a generation, we must step up and help – if not for ourselves, then for future generations.
Step Up With All of Us
The folks who are a part of the All of Us beta test group represent hope and change for our collective health. We will ALL have the opportunity to join them this spring when the NIH will invite all of us to contribute to this information database for future health.
Here’s what you can do until then. Plug in. Read up on the project at www.joinallofus.org. Sign up for email alerts or contact the team if you have questions.
Uncle Sam wants us. In my view, this is one way to give back at absolutely no cost or risk whatsoever. Anything we do now to help our children, their children and future generations leaves a lasting legacy. If the All of Us Research Project achieves its mission, the public health possibilities are far-reaching.
Count me in. I’ll happily volunteer to be one in a million.