Sustainability, Healthcare and Wellness: Thoughts on a Renewable Resource Approach

By Virginia Gurley | Jul 22, 2010

Sustainability, Healthcare and Wellness: Thoughts on a Renewable Resource Approach

With passage of the Healthcare Reform Act, figuring out how to reduce the cost of healthcare is of greater importance than ever before.  Meaningful progress toward this challenge will be achieved through healthcare IT, medical effectiveness research and better access to care for the under and un-insured.  However, to achieve universal coverage that doesn't consume our economy, we need to find new strategies for creating and restoring health that are based on principles of sustainability and renewable resources.  

I think circadian research could provide the basis for sustainability strategies that would make health promotion and healthcare more affordable and more sustainable.  Circadian research is showing us that cyclical variation in environmental signals like light, temperature, food and water are critical to health.  Contemporary lifestyles and our built environment have removed or dampened most of the variation in these environmental signals that synchronize and optimize our physiology.  

The built environment being what it is means we have the tools to restore cyclical variations of temperature and light.  Better yet, we could find ways to bring the outdoors in, or spend more time outside.  Light, temperature and activity variations are key to health, they are renewed by the natural world each day, and they are accessible to all.  Perhaps there's a place for sustainability strategies not just in renewable energy but also in renewable healthcare.       

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