Blog: Satish Malnaik

Americans are in the habit of tossing that $6 coffee maker along with the coffee grounds because pitching is cheaper than patching. And now increasingly wealthy Mumbai, India, is following American models of consumption. Among other things, NextServices CEO Satish Malnaik ponders on a throwaway culture and why excess money's not green.

Post 2: Preventive Maintenance for Health and Cars

In the recent decades, caring for our health has become almost entirely reactionary. Other than the health conscious minority, you really don't think about it much unless something goes wrong. This is surprising behavior because on average, we are quite good at getting the oil change in our cars done a lot more efficiently. So what drives one to be so attentive to the car versus one's own body and health? The obvious answer that comes to mind is that you don't want your car dying on you, or to incur significant repair costs or not having a car for a few days. But the same would be true for your health, yet it's treated differently. Perhaps it may be because it's more work one has to put into it or maybe it is easier to not worry about it the other way around. If one doesn't make the effort to take care of their physical health akin to oil changes or maintenance for our cars, damage is likely, especially long term and detrimental.

Both the automotive and the healthcare industry are trying to move into a new era of what they deliver to us, the consumers.  The auto industry has a renewed focus on smaller cars, fuel efficiency, and most notably, battery powered green technology. Whether their intentions were driven by market demand or a true motivation to drive change in our daily lives is still debated. Favorably enough, federal and state financial incentives helped boost some of that innovation and made it a worthwhile direction to pursue.

A similar change is happening in the healthcare landscape. I am sure many of you are aware that perhaps one of the most spoken about agendas of the current administration is improving healthcare delivery and contain the ballooning cost of care. As someone knee-deep in the era of healthcare delivery changes permeating through to our lives, I frequently get asked about what I think this new world brings, and looks like in the end. Will it truly transform the healthcare system? What does the healthcare system really do for your health beyond all the hype? What will all the investment in technology and electronic medical records translate to for the common man or woman? There might be a connection, after all, if I had to put it in simple language.

One of the more noticeable changes expected as an outcome (or maybe just wishful thinking) is that the digital tools will become a catalyst for preventive care in addition to looking at the complete picture of one's health.  Many of you may have noticed changes when you visit your primary care physician or a specialist doctor. Perhaps not as much in the way they practice medicine, but in terms of your experience as a patient in a practice or facility. One sees physicians and nurses walking around with less paper and tablet computers being used. The documentation of care is going digital and so is the ability of such systems to capture data and ensure that care can eventually move away from being reactionary to preventive. It's too early to say if consumers (patients like us), providers (physicians), facilities (hospitals, labs) and insurers will all play nice towards that single goal – providing coordinated care for your continuous well being.

The real benefit lies in what you and I do with access to such information, and also access when it is perhaps most important. I believe that the simple ability to monitor one's own health in shorter periods of time and to have it be a reminder to us will inculcate good habits geared towards better health. One would become more proactive, if for example, one were informed that their blood pressure is creeping up beyond that acceptable edge. Or for example, your BMI (body mass index) is moving away from what would be considered healthy.  All kinds of gadgets and apps are being developed to both check vitals at home and also to provide you access to information from doctors, labs and hospitals. You can more or less get anything on your PDAs these days. Despite the fear of such information being transported on the internet, embracing such tools will make you aware of changes to your body sooner, not when it is too late.

Enabling such information outside the bounds of doctors' offices or the insurer will make a difference where it matters the most – your health. The next time your car is due for an oil change, schedule time for a quick self-check too.