As Ottawa’s health-care system continues to struggle with staffing and an unprecedented demand for services, one local team of innovators has a solution to break the “one-size-fits-all” health-care mold.
“Our health-care system is no longer fit for purpose,” said Sanjeev Kumar, president and chief visionary officer of the Harley Street Healthcare Group (HSHG).
What this means is that our acute-care system has saved many lives, but some of these lucky patients go on to develop chronic conditions they’ll have to manage themselves — and they’re left to navigate a system that was never designed to help them.
The HSHG has been tackling this problem in the United Kingdom for 30 years and is now bringing their personalized “concierge” approach to Ottawa with The HARLEY.
The HARLEY will be a health and wellness clinic that provides a variety of services like medical imaging, mental health and stress management and preventive care.
“We’ve created a one-stop shop,” said Kumar.
People who use the services of The HARLEY will be given a personal coach who understands their health needs in a holistic way.
The goal is to motivate people to invest in their health, which is of course easier said than done. As a way to incentivize people, Harley will allocate wellness dollars that people could use to pay for services and procedures at the centre.
We already know that prevention is the best medicine for both our bodies and our health system — what we don’t know is how to effectively encourage people to focus on their health before they get sick.
How they do it
“Messaging the right way is important to catch people’s attention,” said Dr. Balu Pitchiah, a psychiatrist based at their London clinic. “It’s not about scaring them, but throwing light on something they haven’t been aware of so they can take action.”
What they tell their clients is their health is the most important investment they can make. “We’ve seen in 70 per cent of the cases that message really resonates with people, because you are saying that you need to be responsible,” said Kumar.
Getting the message right is just one way they engage with clients — they also use health-tracking technology that gathers personalized data. “With technology, our patients can record information as they go along,”’ said Pitchiah.
Your personal concierge will use that data to ensure you’re getting the help you really need by keeping an eye on biomarkers that also track sleep and mood changes. You can then adjust your health routine as well as lifestyle changes before you get sick and wind up in the hospital.
That said, if the worst does happen, that health data is valuable. “Our approach also empowers clinicians and hospitals to make better informed decisions,” said Pitchiah.
In addition to focusing on prevention, a HARLEY health concierge will help people who need to regain their health after a serious illness with a customized rehabilitation program that includes safeguarding their mental health. Some of those strategies include ancient methods of healing like yoga and mindfulness.
“We want to help patients get back to their previous level of functioning as quickly as possible,” said Pitchiah.
In a post-pandemic world where many people continue to struggle with chronic conditions in the wake of COVID-19 that we’re just beginning to understand, a safe rehabilitation program is critical and a personalized plan is essential for success.
“You are your biggest investment and that starts with your own health,” said Kumar. “If you don’t invest in your health on a regular basis, no public health system can help you.”