In the age of the Internet, you can do almost anything wirelessly. This is especially intriguing in the health care field where professionals can monitor the data of patients without having to be in the room.
Every few years, the US Surgeon General issues a recommendation for the country, like encouraging Americans to use sunblock or breastfeed their kids. These are usually public health no-brainers, where the science has determined that Americans would absolutely be better off if they all followed this medical advice. Today the Surgeon General said that simply making the US more conducive for walking would improve the health of half of its citizens.
Preventive health care is a powerful tool for keeping medical costs down. Contraception is cheaper than pregnancy and childbirth; a cholesterol test is cheaper than a triple bypass. It is therefore in society’s interest to encourage the use of preventive health care services like cancer screening, especially for elderly people in aging populations. Increased use of preventive health care also leads to healthier, longer-lived people.
Unfortunately, people aren’t particularly good about preventive health care; not even half of all people over the age of 65 in the US are up to date with recommended preventive services. How can we do better?
A recent PNAS study identified one factor that could help: the more that people feel like they have a purpose in life, the more likely they are to use preventive health care. Purpose was also found to be associated with a lower likelihood of needing overnight hospital visits—possibly as a result of improved health care.