Another “B” for Canada in health. I would rather get an “A”!

According to the latest Conference Board of Canada report card on health, Canada maintains its “B” grade and 10th-place ranking among the 17 peer countries.

On the 11 indicators used to measure health performance, Canada gets three “A”s, four “B”s and four “C”s. Three of Canada’s “C” grades are on mortality rates due to chronic diseases: cancer, diabetes, and musculoskeletal system diseases.


Are these disorders going to have a greater impact on Canadians in the future?

Yes. For example, older people are affected more by musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis and osteoporosis. Not only will these illnesses reduce the quality of life of individuals due to suffering from pain and disability, but the increased prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders will also be costly to the Canadian economy, detracting from future productivity.

At the upcoming 2012 Business of Aging Summit, you’ll see innovative solutions that address these very problems in real ways, supporting lifestyle choices and giving individuals proven tools to help them set their own health goals and management plans.

During the Summit, attendees will learn what organizations can do to create the conditions in which employees experiencing health issues can work more productively—having a positive impact not only on the lives of employees, but on organizations as well.

Funding for health promotion and disease prevention invariably competes with other demands. It is often politically (and personally) difficult to deny urgent needs in the present to invest in the future.

Where the money is spent is just as important as how much is being spent.

Countries with considerably older populations than Canada’s—like Japan and Sweden—do not necessarily have more expensive health systems.

In fact, Japan, which has the lowest health care spending per capita, boasts the highest life expectancy and the lowest infant mortality rate. Sweden, another country with one of the oldest populations in the world, scores “A” grades on five of the health indicators. Sweden has prioritized an integrated approach, tailoring home care, health care and fitness activities to the needs of older Swedes.

The Conference Board’s report concludes: “Greater receptivity to innovative technologies and delivery systems—together with supportive environments and policies to speed up their adoption—is essential to implement new approaches to wellness and disease prevention and management that will optimize Canada’s health care resources and improve population health outcomes.”

I agree. But wellness is also a massively growing business. In the US, the average household spends nearly $150 a month on wellness products and services. Private equity folks have recognized that health, wellness and active living trends are seeing worldwide demand — across North America, in Europe and Asia.

As with anything new, there must be a Darwinian process in the field of workplace and wellness solutions: products that don’t do an adequate job of addressing a real market need simply won’t survive. The products that are successful are designed to accommodate the end user’s psychology and the operational processes of the workplace.

The Business of Aging Summit will focus on the real-world challenges of implementing innovations that improve health and increase productivity both for aging employees and those caring for aging parents. It is a day-long event that will delve into the varying perspectives of customers, users and inventors, highlighting the following:

  • Why a solution is relevant for employees – how it increases productivity, decreases absenteeism, and so on.
  • Why the customer (such as a large company) adopted the solution – what was the decision process, what was the projected ROI, what were the expected results, did it replace a current system?
  • How implementation worked – involvement of end-users, extent of uptake, results achieved, internal/external allies, and so on.
  • Digging deeper – the roadblocks/barriers that had to be overcome, “selling” it to users, achieving traction, tweaks/improvements that were implemented to make it more effective.

Join us on April 30, 2012 at the Business of Aging Summit and hear thought leaders propose innovative solutions to real-world problems.