I've often thought and written about what would happen if large "platforms of influence" made it easier for us to choose healthier, more often. And how meaningful and impactful this would be.
Because we live in a world that very often makes being healthy hard to do. At every turn in our busy lives, the convenient choice likely means the less healthy option. Drive instead of walk. Park closer rather than farther away. Pick up fast food instead of investing time and energy into a home-cooked meal. Packaged foods with longer shelf-lives make our lives "simpler" versus fresh fare needing to be freshly stocked.
Large platforms of influence touch many lives, and can be allies or enemies/angels or saboteurs in the battle for better health. And by large platforms of influence, I mean corporate entities - both for the lives they touch by employing large numbers of people (and the people in turn affected by them), and for the lives they touch through products and services.
Here, I shall focus on a large platform of influence touching the lives of many through products and services. I can think of no better example than my beloved Target. Where else can you go to pick up socks, laundry detergent, groceries, Tylenol…and a Starbucks latte…all in one fell swoop? Maybe Wal-Mart (but for the Starbucks), but that's another story for another day.
I keep running into the Target people - their executives have been frequenting a lot of the same conferences I attend on health and wellness. And I've come to learn more about where they are focusing their energy and resources in the land of health.
Target, as a "one-stop-shopping destination" for the CEO of the individual and of the home, has a plethora of health and wellness tools to offer. All in the name of simplicity and convenience - making things easier for their guests (not consumers…guests).
For example, they have begun to group items to make it more convenient for people to get what they really need at the point of decision. Need a blood-pressure cuff to monitor your blood pressure at work or at home? Perhaps you were also told by your doctor you need other "tools of heart health" like baby aspirin or certain vitamins? All grouped in one place - for your convenience - to help the healthier choice also be the convenient choice.
In addition to personal care items, Target also has pharmacies where you can pick up your prescription meds; a robust section of over-the-counter medications; a grocery department with a range of healthy options; and recreational and sporting equipment. Some stores are also rolling out on-site health clinics, poised to impact public health as a novel healthcare access point. Such clinics provide a convenient healthcare option; one that can help off-load an overtaxed traditional health system model, taking care of acute, episodic conditions and issues that may not be compensated under the Affordable Care Act. And offering additional sites for vaccinations programs, to help ensure public protection through prevention of some infectious disease.
In short, Target can impact many lives, and they are taking on the challenge of positively impacting American health by making it easier for people to choose healthfully for themselves and their loved ones.
Target intends to infuse its message of "simplicity" into this approach to health and wellness, coupling accessible "tools" for wellness with the right kind of understandable information. Because they get that helping people help themselves is a key to solving our health care woes. They are aware of, and focusing on health literacy - not just in being able to read or understand health information, but being able to apply it to one's own individual circumstances, including the financial implications of health decisions. They understand if someone isn't able to afford a treatment plan, they aren't going to be able to follow that plan…and that plan isn't going to be effective.
To me, making health and wellness more accessible, more convenient, and SIMPLER is what we need to be doing - helping each other becoming better stewards of self. Target, I didn't know it was possible, but I love you even more!
For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms. More medical care doesn’t mean better health. Dr. Haines and Metcalf reveal some of the most egregious problems with a medical system gone awry, opening readers’ eyes to how to better navigate the changes underway. Using solid research, insiders’ insights, and patient anecdotes, they offer cost-effective and potentially life-saving ways to get more out of health care while using less of it.
Published On: June 17, 2013