Healthcare already works for the betterment of humankind; its goal is to improve and extend the lives of all humans. However, the problem in healthcare today lies significantly in the way it uses the resources it has available.
Both the amount of resources and how they are used is essential.
The 2019 Global Happiness and Wellbeing Policy Report has prepared several recommendations on how to improve healthcare through the lens of happiness.
Recommendation 1 – A Well-Defined Framework for Healthcare Appraisal
Ensuring the best possible outcomes by using a fixed budget is necessary, and this can only achieve by the use of a well-defined framework of healthcare appraisal. A strong structure needs to be transparent, systematic, and most importantly evidence-based.
Recommendation 2 – Decisions Need to Be Based on Opportunity Cost
The previously mentioned framework for healthcare appraisal cannot be successful unless it is one that funds explicitly interventions which focus on doing good. It shouldn’t provide money for those that focus too much on the activities displaced by the interventions.
Recommendation 3 – The Measure of Benefit Should Be Happiness
The systems in healthcare cannot work in the way we’re discussing unless they focus on what truly matters. It’s vital for these systems to optimize in a way that focuses on the essential things like happiness and the improvement of lives.
Since health spending affects our lives to a considerable extent, by changing many aspects of our lives, it’s only natural for outcomes from healthcare to measure in terms of the overall happiness gained, not by narrowly conceived health.
Recommendation 4 – The Benefits to All Those Affected Must Be Included
Medicine and healthcare today focuses on improving the health of the patient. However, a better healthcare system should consider the benefits of all people involved, not just the patient. These include the patient’s family but also the care providers. They matter as the effect of the illness and recovery takes its toll on everyone involved.
Recommendation 5 – Greater Priority Needs to Be Given to Mental Health
If we are going to view healthcare through happiness, then the priority needs to be set on other things that aren’t merely physical health. Among many, two are essential, and we have separated them into two recommendations due to each being critical in a better system.
The first is mental health to which not enough importance is placed. What’s more, policymakers should invest and support research that looks to find more alternatives.
Recommendation 6 – End-of-Life Care Should Be Improved
The second essential thing in the healthcare system viewed through happiness is end-of-life care. It needs to become more humane as the impact that certain death of a patient leaves on the loved ones is great and requires consideration. It necessitates that aggressive and futile treatments should be withheld, while effective pain relief should become the norm and available to tens of millions of people who die in agony every year.
Such a happiness driven approach has a lot of challenges. However, such an approach is more than necessary, as ultimately, happiness matters as much as health, and both need to be addressed for the healthcare system to work.