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The Coming War Over Healthcare (Hint: It’s Not The One You Think)
Currently, the airwaves are saturated with news of the presidential candidates’conflict.jpeg efforts to woo voters and earn a shot at the nation’s highest office.  Their speeches (and the media) have given everyone the impression that the new president will offer his or her prescription for the nation’s healthcare ills.  This has prompted a battle between health policy wonks, corporations, politicians and ordinary citizens for the future of the American healthcare system.  

While this sound and fury is certainly interesting, in some ways it is irrelevant.
Recent news reports indicate there are players in the areas of technology, marketing and social media who are uniquely suited to impact the health system in ways most politicians could not imagine.   They are paying attention to the health industry because – with the aging of the population – it has the potential for exponential growth.  Currently, they are jockeying for position in a bid to influence how Americans (and the world) manage their health.  
My analysis of news coverage about these issues tells me this battle will be waged on three fronts:

-Privacy: Who can we trust when it comes to health privacy?  

-Information: Who has access to the best information about the population’s health?  How will they use it?

-Behavior Change: Behavioral targeting, online data mining . . . these are some of the tools that allow marketers to understand human behavior and preferences like never before.  Evidence indicates that many are beginning to look at how they can be used to influence Americans’ health behaviors.  

I believe these issues are so important that I will make them a major theme of my blog this year.  I plan to ground my analysis of content I find on blogs, newspapers and magazines in the context of this largely unseen conflict.  

My first post related to this subject will appear next week when I take a close look at a fascinating article that appeared in the New Yorker recently about Google, titled “The Search Party.”  As I will discuss, Google’s forays into areas outside of its core online search business illustrates how it is uniquely positioned to impact privacy, information exchange and consumer behavior.  

11 Comments/Trackbacks

Can't wait to read it, Fard! You've always got something insightful and eloquent to say.

- christopher

I fully agree with your comment on the importance of behavior change. In the short term, we have a health care coverage problem, which can be addressed by finding ways to expand to more affordable and more universal coverage. In the longer term, we will lose the affordability battle unless we solve four other problems:

- Creating healthier populations in healthier communities;
- Significantly increasing convenient access to health care providers, including a significant effort to grow the number of providers;
- Improving health care quality and efficiency; and
- Designing health care plans to drive the right behaviors and penalize the wrong ones.

My big fear relative to any government-mandated coverage is that it will lock into place politically-driven and medically-misguided solutions which will be impossible to change. For example, community rating makes sense only to prevent discrimination against individuals for coverage based on their prior state of health. It does not make sense in driving healthy behaviors. Smokers should pay more for health care, just as they pay more for life insurance. The healthy should subsidize the sick, but those who do everything possible to take good care of themselves should be rewarded for doing so, as opposed to those who are driving costs upward by their preventable unhealthy behaviors.

We also need to recognize that our outreach to different populations needs to be highly-tailored to demographics. Young people receive health-related messages from older people, and different ethnic communities have different opinions about who is a credible source for health information. We need to recognize that in constructing health care communications.


Thank you for your kind words.


Thank you for your thoughtful comments.


Hilary has been quoted as saying she "wants to be the health care president" Her opponent John Edwards has implied she may become one by negotiating compromises with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. This would be a shame since in my opinion allowing these two industries a large voice in our health care reforms is similar to putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Let us hope that our national health care debate can tackle real issues and come up with some meaningful changes that provide a more equitable health care system, one that provides quality healthcare to all. Universal Coverage is a tantalizing idea, but we must be aware that we, the public, will have to pay for it.

Health care is going to be something Republicans and Democrats are going to be at war with forever. I personally believe that Mit Romney has it right. He believe we should have more competition in the health care world. The subsidization the government provides enables people to do nothing with their lives. "> electric health records are the future of keeping track of how people pay for their bills.

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Compassion, Competition, and Choice. This is what our system needs. Political rhetoric is usually drowned out by the powerful K Street interest groups.

The politicians will do anything to get on top. Now they are eyeing for the health related issues. Even though the people know that politicians(most of them) care about themselves, they are fooled again.

Recent news reports indicate there are players in the areas of technology, marketing and social media who are uniquely suited to impact the health system in ways most politicians could not imagine.

I believe it will come down to costs. How much will health care cost the average Joe. To much will push him to search for other options...

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