How local entrepreneurs can spark growth in healthcare

Over the years and decades, healthcare has come a long way. Despite all of the development, though, there is still room for improvement. Although we have a better understanding of diseases and have products to help treat them and relieve symptoms, we still face other problems that need permanent solutions.

Cancer, for example, is one disease we’re still trying to manage. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 1,735,350 new cases of cancer in 2018 in the United States alone.

They say 87 percent of all cancers in the US are diagnosed in people aged 50 or older, but things like smoking, an unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity can increase the risk of developing the disease.

They also say that approximately 40 in every 100 males and 38 in every 100 females in the US will develop cancer during their lifetime.

Philanthropist and entrepreneur Hunter Perret said, “when we got involved with cancer philanthropy, we knew we had to support research and development efforts to work on eradicating the disease (i.e. research through the American Cancer Society), but we also needed to handle the immediate needs of cancer patients and their families, and the fact that patients were dying proximately due to the lack of local resources.”

Cancer isn’t the only pressing health issue that needs a solution. Diseases like HIV and AIDS, Parkinson’s, Schizophrenia, and Huntington’s may have treatments that can mitigate symptoms but are still without cures.

Even more common and less lethal diseases, like asthma and arthritis, can be treated but not cured. Drug addiction is another serious issue that still needs both a short and long-term solution.

As a philanthropist and entrepreneur who has worked on some healthcare-focused investments, Perret feels developers can continue to spark growth in other ways, in addition to working on cancer treatments.

“We have done several things in the healthcare space – creation, partnership, operations, management, administrative services, inpatient services, outpatient services, etc.” he said, “I think the main things affecting medicine right now, as a whole, are consolidation of healthcare services and provider services as well as addressing an appropriate answer to the opioid crisis.”

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, in 2016 more than 11 million people misused prescription opioids and 116 people died every day from opioid-related overdoses.

In total, 42,429 people died from an opioid overdose, and of the 11 million people who misused opioid prescriptions, more than 2 million were first-time users. From 1992 to 2012, opioid prescriptions increased from 112 million to 282 million, and although they did drop down to 236 million in 2016, we’re still feeling the effects of the prescription pad.

According to Perret, “The opioid situation is unique… we need to look ahead about what to do with long-term treatment for opioids and need to think about the creation of new drugs and treatment delivery systems that are safe and non-addictive, but we also have to treat the epidemic at hand by somehow safely delivering opioids to those that need them as well as deal with the addiction crisis amidst abusers and those that are addicted to the effects of the drug.”

The states with the lowest drug overdose mortality rates, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), are California, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Iowa, and Missouri. All other states have a 12.5 and 52 mortality rate related to drug overdoses.

The concerns and problems the opioid epidemic has presented also open up an opportunity for entrepreneurs and developers to spark growth and change the healthcare sector. Like Perret said, it’s important to not only focus on solving the problem at hand, but also to think about the long-term and what can be done to prevent the crisis from continuing in the future.

Will your product help those who are addicted to opioids kick the addiction? Will your company develop a non-addictive and safe alternative to the main relief medications that are currently prescribed?

Although healthcare has come a long way from where it was, it still has a way to go. It’s important that we not only treat the epidemics that we’re facing, but also that we find the solutions to eradicate them and prevent them from happening in the future.

What are some solutions that you think can spark growth in the healthcare industry?

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