Let's Incentivise Those Who Look after Their Health

Perspectives in Public Health, November 2011 | Go to article overview

Let's Incentivise Those Who Look after Their Health


People who are more effective at looking after their health tend to use health services much less. While those who opt to eat unhealthy foods, smoke, drink excessively and not exercise tend to need health services much more.

We can look at this from the perspective of the amount of national insurance given to the Government or health insurance premiums paid to insurers, versus the amount of health services received. Since those individuals who follow the advice of our health promotion colleagues are more likely to access health services less than those who choose not to look after themselves, it could be argued that those who take care of themselves are penalised.

Much has been written about systems - inputs, process, outputs and outcomes - and while we are more likely to think of systems such as the circulatory system, the patient journey, or how health services are commissioned, we can also apply systems thinking to people's health.

Inputs to the systems of people's lives include being born, parental thought, the standard of housing and sanitation, education, accessible and quality health services and so on. Outputs on the other hand include friends, careers, education certificates, sickness and prison sentences to name but a few.

Everything that happens between the inputs and the outputs is process and this includes how the child and adult fare in their home life, school, marriage and how they deal with set-backs. Finally outcomes are the impacts that the outputs have on the quality of life. Examples of outcomes include physical health, mental health, contentment and happiness.

But what about healthcare professionals like us? Our contributions vary, depending on our roles and outlooks. It can be said that the best thought that leaders articulate is the destination for health services, health improvement and health protection. …

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