Written by Stacey D’Angelo (Pharmacist & Founder of Your Simple Health)
with Jocelyn Hill (Board Certified Health Coach and Founder of JWellness)
Welcome to the realm where you are the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of your own health!
In this blog, we delve into this concept and explore why adopting the CEO mentality is crucial in the current landscape of healthcare. We'll touch on the pressures on the healthcare system which are paving the way for a paradigm shift towards proactive health management. We advocate that you treat your health like a serious business. Recognize that you are running it, whether you know it or not.
Why the Term CEO?
Just as a CEO manages an organization, you are the highest officer charged with the management of your health. Understanding and applying the responsibilities of a CEO can help us to recognize the need for strategic decisions, effectively using your team, and a vision to guide your health journey.
The Current Health Landscape
Let’s start with a lay of the land! Research shows that we have an increasing burden of chronic disease. Almost half (44%) of adults aged 20+ have at least one common chronic condition, including 25% of the population with hypertension. (1) This results in greater medication use and increasing costs to the healthcare system.
This increase in chronic conditions, as well as a “pill-for-every-ill” society, has resulted in medication use skyrocketing. In fact two thirds (66%) of Canadian seniors are on 5 or more medications. (2)
Let’s take mental health as an example. This study showed 13% of adults had mood and/or anxiety disorder as of 2016. We know this has only exacerbated since the pandemic. In fact, another study showed a whopping 9% increase in the use of antidepressants from 2019 to 2021. (2)
Now, let me say, medications are NOT bad. They are often lifesaving and have their place in making you feel better and preventing complications when used appropriately. However, we also know that less is better. After a certain point (if you are on 5 medications or more), more medications = greater risk. We see the risk of falls, hospitalizations and adverse drug reactions increases exponentially with each additional medication. We want to minimize that wherever possible. We can reduce medication use in two ways: 1) prevention, and 2) deprescribing. (Learn more about deprescribing here.)
Based on these stats, it comes as no surprise that the healthcare system is under pressure and we are seeing long wait times, shortages of health professionals, and a greater economic burden.
A New Paradigm
Okay, so enough with the doom and gloom… What can we do about it?!
The first step is recognizing what our health system does, and what it does not. Where you can take steps to be proactive and be preventative with your health to set yourself up for a positive future.
This is the ‘Illness Wellness Continuum’ which was developed by Dr. John Travis. (4) Here we can see that moving from the center to the left shows a progressively worsening state of health. Moving to the right of center means health and wellbeing are being increased.
Our health system is set up for the left side of this continuum. It helps to perform life-saving surgeries and treat disease with medications once it has arrived. It is not, however, set up for prevention or bringing you to optimal wellness.
Qualities of a CEO
Let’s look at some key qualities that many CEO’s possess, how this translates in business, and how we can apply these qualities to support our health.
CEO in Business
Application to Your Health
See the potential future of the company and guide the organization towards it
Envision optimal health and establish your health goals.
Make critical decisions and plans for the future. Constantly reevaluate results and course correct if needed.
Conduct health planning session, reevaluate and course correct
Understand and manage data for fact-driven decisions.
Utilize wearables, lab work, health screenings. Tap into your health team.
Balances information and intuition, that inner ‘knowing’.
Trust your own knowledge and experience. No one knows your body better than you.
The CEO does not do every job themselves. They curate and develop the right team to get the job done.
Curating your health team, advocate for yourself and lead in decision-making.
Applying the CEO Mentality to Health
Shifting your mindset is essential if you want to achieve the CEO mentality when it comes to your health. Many people sit back as their health happens to them, not with them, feeling powerless in the process. I want to encourage you to feel empowered. As a proactive patient you can engage in shared decision-making with healthcare providers, and recognize the impact of your actions on future health.
Your health should be treated like a business, involving planning, accountability and regular reevaluation to ensure you are on the right track.
As Health CEO's we encourage you to:
Practice prevention. Look beyond your current status to develop a proactive strategy for the future.
Focus on health optimization. Taking small strategic steps that are right for your body can help you move to the right side of that Wellness Continuum, no matter where you lie today.
Curate your team. Lean on the right providers to enable you to make better informed health decisions.
Take time to re-evaluate. Remember that optimal health is a journey. It is a continuous process, requiring frequent reassessment and rebalancing.
Handle your health like a vital business: Because it is!
Embrace the CEO mentality to be proactive in optimizing your health.
Stay tuned for our next blog, where we will tackle the “how”, so you can execute to effectively become the CEO of your health.
Public Health Agency of Canada. Prevalence of Chronic Diseases Among Canadian Adults. 2019. Accessible at https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/services/chronic-diseases/prevalence-canadian-adults-infographic-2019-eng.pdf
Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Drug Use Among Seniors in Canada. 2022. Accessible at https://www.cihi.ca/en/drug-use-among-seniors-in-canada
IQVIA Canada. Medication Treatments for Mental Health Disorders in Canada: An independent IQVIA report on drug ultiziation data, 2019-2021. Accessible at https://www.iqvia.com/-/media/iqvia/pdfs/canada/white-paper/medication-treatments-for-mental-health-disorders-in-canada.pdf
Travis JW, Ryan RS. The Wellness workbook. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1988,