Setting Healthcare Goals

I have always been a big believer in using New Years as an excuse to think about my goals – what did I accomplish last year, what do I hope to accomplish in 2008, and what are my 5 and 10-year goals. With the exception of a few years, I have done this for most of the past decade. It is a an interesting tale of how my priorities have evolved from very career oriented in the early years after business school to much more balanced now. My goals will now typically include a few career objectives, some family objectives, a financial planning objective, and a few personal objectives (e.g., run a 1:40 half-marathon).

When I got ready to write this entry, I decided to try and find a story / study that I had heard referenced numerous times about an ivy league class where they tracked the success of people that wrote down their goals versus those that didn’t. Unfortunately, all I found was that it was a myth. I still believe it is a helpful process, and I think telling some of them to others so that they encourage you is also important.

A good term to use in setting goals (work or personal) is S.M.A.R.T. which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Just Google “SMART goals” and you will find numerous links. It is often a good idea to have a specific objective or event and/or to reward yourself. (e.g., I want to lower my BMI by X points prior to my annual visit to the doctor and will upgrade the cabin on my next cruise if I achieve this.) And, don’t forget to set a baseline metric for where you are today so you know how much you have improved.

So what goals should you have a health consumer…here are a few ideas:

  • Know your metrics (BMI, HDL/LDL)
  • Understand your family history and probability of diseases
  • Lose weight or improve your physical fitness
  • Take any preventative measures needed based on age or gender or other attributes
  • Take advantage of any wellness programs offered (wellness goal article)
  • Learn about the food you take into my body
  • Eliminate any unhealthy activities (e.g., smoking)

And, what goals would we want our healthcare companies to have for the new year:

  • Understand me as an individual and how I want to be communicated with
  • Improve your customer service so it is proactive and I only have to tell you once who I am
  • Make your communications understandable to me not only to a medical professional
  • Help me manage my data
  • Give me tools to make decisions don’t just shift risk and responsibility to me
  • Help me with prevention and wellness and other long-term activities

With that in mind, it should be interesting to see if Revolution Health gets some traction with their new offering – Resolutions 2.0. From what I have read and seen, it looks like they have created an online tool for setting and tracking goals and combined that with two things – social interaction to build encouragement and expert insight to provide hints and advice. It will be interesting to see the adoption and use. It would be great if they could track it versus a control group to see the improvement in achievement of goals.

“The beginning of a new year always brings with it a fresh start and the best of intentions to change one’s life for the better,” said Steve Case, chairman and CEO of Revolution Health. “We all make New Year’s resolutions but going it alone can often make those good intentions a grind. By adding the power of friend-to-friend support along with expert information, is offering a simple, fun and free way for people to achieve goals they never have before.”

The expert “groups” they have created include the following which although broader in scope than I expected seem to have something for all of us:

  1. Improve My Relationship/Marriage
  2. Keep My Family Active
  3. Take Charge of Your Life
  4. Become A Complaint Free Person
  5. Eat Right and Stay Slim
  6. Walk More to Lose Weight
  7. Sleep At Least 7 Hours A Night
  8. Have a Smoke Free Day
  9. Lose Up to 20 lbs By Spring
  10. De-stress

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