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For too long, healthcare technology has focused reactively on treating the acutely ill. Instead, our system, and new innovation, should prioritize proactively keeping people well.

The influence of IHI’s “Triple Aim” principles are helping this structural shift, as well as the trend towards performance-based pay, and most dramatically, economic incentives among large employers to drive down risk for better population health management.

So the key question that nearly everyone is asking is this: how can we reliably affect behavior change to increase the well-being of groups large and small, across America? The future of preventative care depends upon the answer.

Beam is one company worth studying. Beam is a new kind of dental insurer that gives its members an Internet-connected toothbrush that syncs with a slick mobile app.

Beam is all about risk. Like many insurers, they want to better price it, of course. But they want to reduce risk too. Payers, as well as providers and patients, benefit equally when optimal health is maintained.

The best clinic is one that you never go to, after all. The best hospital is one that keeps you far away from its campus.

Seeing Is Believing

I spoke to Beam’s CEO Alex Frommeyer last week. Long before Beam unveiled its aspirations in group and individual insurance, their team spent years proving that their smart toothbrush and its accompanying application could get people to brush their teeth more often and for longer.

These outcomes underwrote their whole endeavor, both literally and figuratively.

“It starts with the Hawthorne Effect,” said Frommeyer.

For those unfamiliar, the Hawthorne Effect is sometimes referred to as the observer effect, and causes individuals to improve their behavior in response to the basic fact of their being observed in the first place. It is a behavioral psychologist’s version of Peter Drucker’s famous observation that everything measured, improves.

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