Authors David Houle & Jonathan Fleece
“The New Health Age offers a succinct primer on how we got here and where we should be taking the health of our nation.”
Mehmet Oz, MD, Host, The Dr Oz Show
“The time is now and America is ready. This book lays out an inspirational plan for transforming our collective health that is sure to propel us on an irresistible path of new wealth, prosperity and happiness.”
Ann Kulze, MD, Author, Eat Right for Life
“David and Jonathan chart out in this book one of the most important and hopeful national health and policy agendas for the twenty-first century – ‘The Race to a Healthy America.’ Every patriotic American should read this book and join us in the Race! Our future good health and prosperity depend on it.”
Mark Hyman, MD
Chairman, The Institute for Functional Medicine
Founder & Medical Director, The UltraWellness Center
America’s history books are filled with threats that once confronted this great nation’s very survival. On April 12, 1861, the Confederate Army fired the first shots on Fort Sumter, off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. These shots started the Civil War. Despite years as a divided union full of bloodshed, America emerged from this epic war united. On December 7, 1941, the United States entered World War II following the surprise attack by the Japanese Empire on America’s sacred Pearl Harbor. Once again, Americans stood up to the call and defeated those who sought to conquer democracies across the globe. On September 11, 2001, terrorists waged a new type of war against the U.S. While the war against terrorism remains, the terrorists who sought to bring down America have since witnessed how the patriotism of this great country will defeat and conquer its enemies. Americans hold and share a great spirit when many fear that all may be lost.
Today, America faces a unique yet defining new threat. The challenge we face today is the utter deterioration of the health of Americans. The state of health in America is abysmal and the threat that poor health poses to this nation’s future is as serious as those dangers mentioned above, for “without our health, we have nothing.”
Consider the facts. According to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics:
- 34 percent of Americans age 20 years and older are clinically obese and nearly two-thirds are Americans are overweight
- 20.6 percent of Americans 18 years of age and older currently smoke cigarettes
- Only 25.4 percent of American adults regularly engage in leisure-time physical activity
- 55.6 million Americans had ambulatory care visits (to physician offices or hospital outpatient or emergency departments) with mental disorders as the primary diagnosis
The New England Journal of Medicine reports that:
- 465,000 smoking deaths could be prevented by quitting smoking
- 395,000 deaths related to high blood pressure could be prevented through medication and lifestyle changes
- 216,000 deaths could be prevented by reducing obesity
- 191,000 deaths could be prevented if Americans exercised regularly
- 190,000 deaths could be prevented by controlling diabetes
- 113,000 deaths could be prevented by controlling cholesterol
Add up these figures and 1,570,000 people die annually from preventable conditions–correct, preventable. This number equates to nearly the entire population of Philadelphia dying in one year from preventable causes.
The nation’s spending on health care is out of control too. Nearly twenty percent of the U.S. GDP is spent on health care. This level of spending is amongst the highest out of the world’s most developed countries. Yet when we examine the quality, efficiency, and accessibility of American health care, respected organizations such as the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. poorly. Despite spending such great amounts on health care, the return on America’s investment in health is shockingly poor.
The health of Americans, along with poor health outcomes and high costs, create the latest great threat to America’s future. Without a healthy society, how can we continue to prosper? Without a health care system that is affordable, accessible, and efficient, how can we remain a competitive nation? Without change, it will be difficult to succeed and compete in a global marketplace. The ability to preserve the American society and culture that citizens have grown to depend on is no doubt in jeopardy.
Rest assured, like is eras past, America’s unbreakable spirit will not be broken today either. Our nation will confront, attack, and reverse the current trajectory towards a society that is inactive, sick, overweight, and unhealthy, but it will take an event – a shock to the system – to inspire and instigate change.
This country needs a vision towards a new day, a new age – The New Health Age. The New Health Age will be filled with healthier lifestyle choices, efficient health care systems that focus on disease management and prevention, along with policy makers, educators, and employers that support such lofty but obtainable realities.
America needs an event, a modern movement to trigger the spark that will usher in this new age. That movement will be The Race to a Healthy America. The Race to a Healthy America movement is focused on one primary objective – to make the United States of America the healthiest nation on the planet by the year 2025.
How will this movement begin? It will launch a few miles away from where one of the last major American races began, in Florida. During the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy inspired millions to join the race to be the first nation to walk on the moon. That race was won at The Kennedy Space Center. The Race to a Healthy America will also launch in Florida. The Tampa Bay Partnership, as part of its ONE BAY – Healthy Communities initiative, will ignite the Race’s launch in Tampa Bay. But the launch event is just the beginning. Much more will follow.
Americans will benefit from the Race in countless ways. Citizens will live longer, healthier, and happier lives. Americans’ minds, bodies, and spirits will grow stronger. Spending on health care will go down while the nation’s state of health goes up. The strength of the United States will remain steadfast for future generations.
The Race will truly begin one American at a time. From the East Coast to the West Coast and places in between, Americans will begin the Race with one step. Any action will do. Walk, run, swim, or bike. Take yoga, dance, meditate, and quiet spirits once in a while. Citizens, businesses, governments, and educators will unite and adopt one principle – “Let’s make America healthier, one person at a time, one step at a time; to make this nation the healthiest on earth by 2025.”
Are YOU ready? Take that first step. Join THE RACE!
Note: David Houle and Jonathan Fleece inspire the The Race to a Healthy America movement in their newly acclaimed book, “The New Health Age: The Future of Health Care in America”.
Almost overnight, everything changed. I have practiced health care law since 1997, representing health care professionals and institutions of all sorts—including many physicians. In 2009, my law practice transformed itself. Barack Obama had been sworn in as the forty-fourth President of the United States; and soon thereafter, he declared that reforming America’s health care system was one of his top agenda items. The President had enough Congressional support to see this goal through to the end; and the nation and many of my clients knew it.
Questions and uncertainty swirled through nearly every aspect of my professional life. What would health care reform look like? Who would be in control of health care after it was all said and done? Was the country headed toward a socialist based health care model? How fast and to what degree would things change?
Not surprisingly, the most common questions surrounded everyone’s own self-interest, including mine. How was health care reform going to change my world? What will reform mean for my family and me? Will my profession and my business be able to adapt to the new ways? Will the quality of health care be better or worse in America? Will I make more or less money? How will this nation and taxpayers pay for it all in the midst of great local and global economic turmoil?
By late 2009, even before Congress and the President had passed any health care reform laws, purely in response to the anticipation of a new health care system that few knew anything about, many of my clients began to react in unprecedented and unpredictable ways. Hospitals and physicians who had stood in opposition previously began to partner and align in rapid-fire fashion. I represented one group of doctors who had been functioning independently for decades, yet the impending threat of health care reform drove these physicians to sell their practices to a hospital system for next to nothing monetarily; and they each became salaried employees. The transaction took less than 60 days to complete, which was nearly unheard of in the commercial transactional world. (It typically takes longer than 60 days to sell or purchase a residential home, which is a far less complex transaction.)
Other groups of health care clients that had previously viewed themselves as competitors merged to become larger—based on the “safety in numbers” logic. Several health care technology clients feared that massive capital would be required to compete following health care reform, so they sold or aligned with other companies to increase their combined financial strength and market power. Examples of this sort were becoming the norm amidst the stir of health care reform.
Client after client demonstrated symptoms of fear, uncertainty, stress, and dissatisfaction, to levels and degrees that I have not previously witnessed. Since 2009 to date, I have represented more clients making substantial business decisions triggered by these emotions than in all prior years of my practice combined. Indeed, the business and profession of health care had changed, and in a substantial way.
During this dynamic period, it became clear to me that my clients lacked a resource to explain and justify their emotions and behaviors. I too was unable to locate a single source of information that could explain succinctly and effectively to me the market forces that were driving such new, but starkly different, activity.
So David, as an internationally acclaimed futurist, and I as a national health care attorney, set out to co-author a book that would fill the informational void that existed. Simply stated, this book shares knowledge about the transformational changes occurring in health care and organizes it clearly, to instill hope for a better tomorrow through a gained awareness.
The pursuit of knowledge and the eventual acquisition of it, whether we obtain it through education, life lessons, or otherwise, is what separates great citizens from all others; because without knowledge, humankind has no basis upon which to see a better tomorrow. Without knowledge, we simply exist versus contribute. The knowledge that readers can gain from The New Health Age: The Future of Health Care in America will help to foster contributions from all of us—contributions that we cannot even begin to comprehend, yet.
As a futurist, I define what I do as being a catalyst to get people to think about the future and to then facilitate a conversation about that future. To do so, I ask audiences and readers to let me lift them up out of their day-to-day context with all the thoughts that they have about the present, all the opinions that they have about issues, and all of what they have been told to believe. Only by setting aside all of this mental noise can we really get a glimpse of what will be and what the future might look like. If one has a point of view that viewpoint acts as a filter through which one looks at the world. If one is a technologist, for example, he will think that technology will solve everything. If someone identifies with a political party, then she will think that when that party has control, everything will improve. Almost everyone looks at life through these types of filters.
As a futurist, I try not to hold any such points of view as they inhibit my ability to see, sense, or envision the future. Holding a specific point of view will keep me from seeing the future clearly. I ask you to read this book without any preconceived filters, as they may well limit your ability to see all the possibilities, potential, change, and benefits of The New Health Age.
My first book, The Shift Age, was published in early 2008. In it, I set forth the idea that humanity had entered a new age, the Shift Age, and was leaving the Information Age.
When The Shift Age was first published, many people questioned why I used the word “shift.” Well, in the years since, the use of that word has exploded. It shows up every day in the media. The number of new books that have the word “shift” in the title has grown exponentially. Everyone now senses dramatic shifts in their lives and in the world. Almost every aspect of humanity and how we live is in a relative rate of shift. We have entered a time of shift and transformation unparalleled in human history.
The three previous ages of humanity, the Agricultural Age, the Industrial Age, and the Information Age, were each named around how things were produced and how wealth was created and society changed. Each of these ages initiated profound transformations in the world. The Shift Age that we are now experiencing is shaped by three fundamental forces that have, are, and will reshape humanity for the next 10 to 15 years. These three forces are: The Flow to Global, The Flow to the Individual, and Accelerating Electronic Connectedness. We will explore each of these forces of The Shift Age in Chapter 6. It is in the context of these three forces that we must also view The New Health Age.
The New Health Age is beginning exactly because of these forces and has begun as part of the Shift Age. I mention this as there are numerous references to the Shift Age and these forces in this book.
I thank the thousands of people who have let me know that The Shift Age, and my speeches related to the book, have profoundly changed the way that they look at the world around them. I thank the hundreds of CEOs and business owners who have told me that this view of the future has helped them reshape their visions of how they need to run their companies. To all of you, I say that I will publish an updated volume of The Shift Age by the end of 2011.
In 2010, Jonathan Fleece, my co-author of this book, and I were speaking about my sense that medicine and health care delivery were about to enter a new age that is historically inevitable and closely tied to the forces of the Shift Age. Jonathan is one of the most knowledgeable and accomplished health care attorneys and thinkers in America. He told me of how profoundly his health care law practice had changed in 2009 and 2010. It was these conversations that led us to define the period that we have now entered as “The New Health Age” and which inspired us to write the book that you now hold in your hands.