When It Comes to Preventive and Proactive Wellness, Accessibility Is Key


Healthcare is an ever-evolving field built on new understanding derived from emerging information provided by consumers, providers, analysts and scientists. Our understanding of “wellness” as a concept has shifted dramatically over the past decade to encompass significantly more than it once did. As a society, we previously looked at “wellness” as one-dimensional and synonymous with measurable physical health. More recently, we have grown to recognize wellness is complex and multi-faceted — which we have come to appreciate as a deeply layered and multi-dimensional aspect of the human condition.

Wellness is a composition of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health, all of which are intricately interlinked. It is no longer enough for healthcare providers to focus strictly on physical health — their care must be more comprehensive and holistic in nature and build upon complementary and integrative techniques that can address these other factors. 

An ounce of prevention

Moreover, as we have grown to understand more about the causality of different diseases and the chronic nature of conditions that contribute to them, there has also been a growing appreciation for proactive and preventative care. A sore shoulder today may be tendinitis tomorrow, and a torn rotator cuff a week after that. By getting to the root cause immediately after symptoms set in — or ideally, before — we have learned we can prevent worse conditions from developing. 

Thus, proactively seeking care provides for better all-around health. This makes practical sense from a personal perspective, but also from the standpoint of healthcare providers — healthcare institutions acknowledge that treatments for conditions that are further progressed or late-stage are more difficult and expensive to treat. By seeking preventive care, it may be possible to make lifestyle adjustments such as quitting smoking, exercising more and eating a healthier diet to potentially prevent future cardiovascular diseases. Early diagnosis of cancer leads to simpler, more effective and less costly treatments, which means cancer screenings save lives and money. In fact, a study by the  found that cancer screenings have saved the U.S. up to $6.5 trillion over the past 25 years.

Financial obstacles to proactive care

But recognizing the value of preventive care is not the same as applying it. Despite the known benefits and a more holistic modern view of healthcare, according to a KFF report from 2022, 43% of households were delaying or altogether foregoing some level of medical care due to cost, making this one of the most impactful hindrances to wellness. By putting off care, most people do not realize that they may not be postponing the same costs for another day, but rather, are building increased future costs for themselves in the form of more complex treatments later. The increased complexity can lead to not only further increased monetary costs, but also greater costs in the form of lost time due to recovery. Thus, delaying care for financial reasons only complicates the matter further, and leads to more problems that hinder wellness goals.  

As the knowledge base for wellness, healthcare providers have a professional imperative to effectively address these barriers to help ensure their patients (the consumers) can receive the care they need. 

A role for healthcare providers

Given their trusted advisory role as wellness facilitators, it may be possible for healthcare providers to empower their patients to get the care they want by providing vital education on what payment options exist, including financial assistance (when applicable), health insurance, third-party financing and in-house payment plans. These services, offered in combination or individually, help make costs more manageable so that patients are better able to seek and receive the care they require. Up to 90% of adults have insurance, according to the KFF report, but there are several types of wellness services that are not often covered by health insurance, such as spa facilities, mental health services, acupuncture or cosmetics, to name a few. When faced with the options of either not receiving these services due to cost, or finding alternative ways to pay for them, there are a variety of third-party financing options and plans available to meet the needs of qualifying consumers. Through these payment services, certain wellness options become more accessible.

A comprehensive outlook

Completeness in healthcare relies upon recognition of the importance of receiving care promptly or proactively, which ultimately results in better health outcomes and even promotes better financial outcomes in the long run. If we are to promote the best wellness in everyone, then we must do all we can to prevent costs from becoming a hindrance to receiving services when they are needed.

Ultimately, holistic wellness is an essential, not a luxury. Healthcare providers sit at the junction between consumers and these services and have the ability to inform their patients of financing options. With awareness and expanded financing possibilities, we can work together to drive people toward better selfcare that encompasses the spectrum of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health and thus, comprehensive wellness.

Photo: Nuthawut Somsuk, Getty Images

Erin Gadhavi is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Wellness at Synchrony, one of the nation’s premier consumer financial services companies. Erin leads Synchrony’s wellness vertical, focusing on key areas of growth, including cobranding, new product integration, and expanding distribution channels for retail, pharmacy, wellness, dual card world sales and in new markets, like behavioral health. Erin joined Synchrony in 2013 and has since held a variety of roles: first with the consumer banking team and then the strategy team, where she led strategy and initiatives for the health and wellness platform.


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