“There’s a wonderful community within the behavior change world of people sharing notes,” says David Kirchhoff. That said, Kirchhoff acknowledges that it is worth paying attention to places like the U.K., where the NHS is promoting linked, community-based, payer-supported, and holistic care models, as well as the Netherlands, where there are innovations with doctor groups. “I think there is a lot of really good stuff happening in this country,” Kirchhoff says, “and there are a lot of really good pockets of innovation. They just need to be much more widespread.”
But, adds Wendy Wood, parts of Europe understand health care more broadly than the U.S. may have in the past. In particular, northern Europe has implemented a number of social programs and other policy initiatives to ensure healthy lifestyles — such as Denmark’s slow, locally sourced food movement promoted by the government — which are not necessarily popular in the United States. “That whole strategy of policy change in a health direction is not as popular here,” says Wood. “There are pros and cons to both approaches, but it would be nice to maybe have us be a bit more open to those kinds of initiatives.”
A lot of countries face similar health care concerns to those in the U.S, notes NEJM Catalyst’s Kevin Volpp, such as rising costs and the role of non-communicable diseases. But, he adds, one of the things that does seem different is “the willingness to not only tolerate but embrace more paternalistic policies, where the government can play a bigger role in trying to put in place policies or programs that are designed to improve health.” And there’s been a lot of resistance to that in the United States.
From the NEJM Catalyst event Patient Engagement: Behavioral Strategies for Better Health at the University of Pennsylvania, February 25, 2016.