Why the healthcare system doesn’t want you to be healthy.


The healthcare sector is struggling with major challenges. There is a shortage of personnel, waiting times are rising, costs are skyrocketing and in some western countries good care is becoming unreachable for people with a small budget. Current healthcare business models are designed to pay for care, not to pay for health. That’s why it’s time to redesign the system.

It doesn’t really matter that much which Western country you take as an example. Healthcare costs have continued to rise over the past 25 years throughout Europe and North America. Take for instance the United Kingdom. In 1997, the country spent £65 billion on healthcare. In 2020, the counter stood at almost £270 billion. More than 10 percent of its gross domestic product is spent on healthcare. Other western countries show similar figures. And if nothing changes, these numbers will continue to rise in the future. According to an important government advisory board in The Netherlands, in 2060 a quarter of Dutch government expenditure is spent on health care. This is clearly not sustainable.

Hands on the bed.

So far, this story isn’t just about rising costs, which is admittedly an alarming development. But there are more signs that indicate a broken system. Healthcare is largely about healthcare staff and we simply don’t have enough of them. The shortage of medical professionals and healthcare providers is increasing in more and more countries. People who work on the front line are under great pressure and can barely handle the work. Because the demand for good care continues to rise, long waiting times are now quite common. These problems have been known for years, but the global pandemic has shown how fragile the healthcare system really is. The United Nations reported in early 2022 that 90 percent of the countries were still experiencing disruptions to their essential health services.

The shifts we see.

Covid-19 has shown that a structural change of the system is necessary. Doctors and nurses know that. Just like hospital administrators and insurers. And the government knows it too. But nobody really seems to be able to change, especially since parties are stuck in a system that blocks innovation. We explain this with the help of an example from the past. In ancient China, you paid your doctor to keep you healthy. Did you get sick? Then the doctor would treat you for free until you were well again. Our healthcare system, on the other hand, is designed to pay for treatments, not to stay healthy. A more holistic approach to healthcare is needed to get out of that stranglehold. One that focuses on treatments, cures and prevention. This means we should take people’s lifestyles into consideration.

Staying healthy instead of curing.

Until we finally make this shift, financing prevention will remain very difficult. We do, however, see more and more good initiatives emerging, fueled by creative brains from the business community.

  • The French company HIP’GUARD has developed an airbag that protects the hips of the elderly in the event of a fall, which is the root cause of hospitalization.

  • Invented in California, active as a company in The Netherlands. DEARhealth is a platform that uses artificial intelligence to create a care plan for patients with a chronic disease. The founders call it a Google Maps for healthcare. The results turn out to be astonishing. Doctors need to perform fewer actions and patients see an improvement in their quality of life.

  • Something similar is showing Luscii, a remote patient monitoring platform. With the app, people take their measurements at home creating space for doctors and nurses to give patients the time and attention they deserve. They receive self-care tips and can chat with a specialist if needed. In this way, this platform wants to solve the problem of staff shortages in healthcare.

Co-creation as a basis for better care.

Innovations like this only have a chance of success if parties in the healthcare sector actively seek each other out and work together. Co-creation that is. In addition, we have to take a critical look at protocols. The healthcare-domain is full of it. Rightly so, because public safety comes first. At the same time, letting go or be more flexible with some protocols is necessary to change the system. The pandemic has shown that this is possible. By speeding up procedures and sharing information faster, vaccines have been developed in record pace. This has saved millions of lives. Co-innovation is desperately needed to reduce global health risks and lower research and development costs.

New business models for better care.

Healthcare systems are under great pressure globally. Fortunately, where systems are broken, there is a lot of opportunity for innovation. Opportunities to do things radically different, while creating value for individuals, society as a whole, and our planet. At Business Models Inc., we have been and are currently working closely with various different companies to fundamentally change the healthcare sector. We do this by working on new ways to create, deliver, and capture value with the aim of changing the system. Our shared goals are better healthcare, affordable and accessible to everyone. Because we all deserve the best care and cure, when we need it. Yet, we should actively work on staying healthy for as long as possible. What do you think? How do you see a healthcare system which is designed to pay for health instead of care.

Consulted sources 




United Nations

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Roland Wijnen
Business designer Amsterdam

Roland Wijnen

Aikido, life-long learner, handyman, Amsterdam, vegetarian, gardening, rolling up sleeves, “strategy is a visual art”, why? (question everything), deep thinker, engineer.