By Len Monheit
On May 12th, several organizations and institutions will collaborate in a day-long symposium and public forum dealing with Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals for Healthcare Cost Reduction (http://www.npicenter.com/newsletter/to_healthcare/eventblast03_17_06.htm) . Included in the expected list of attendees are government officials and policy contributors.
Over the past few years, several studies and investigations have attempted to tie smarter, healthier nutrition in addition to effective use of appropriate dietary supplements and natural health products to a potential reduction in health care costs. These efforts have been led, certainly in the United States, by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance (DSEA) which has commissioned two studies by the Lewin Group on this very issue, and other investigations have examined potential impact specifically on diabetes.
As we prepare for this May event, it strikes me more than ever that the future of our industry will not be determined solely by how we act with each other or with our existing client and consumer base. It is becoming more apparent that the success will be dependent on a variety of outreach activities involving partners we might yet, in some cases, have begun imagining.
Traditionally industry has worked with legislators and regulators, with varying degrees of success and there is a long history of grassroots consumer campaigns. Industry's relationship with mainstream media ranges in most cases, from neutral to negative, with the media obviously playing off the sensationalism of negative stories, with which this industry, unfortunately, has all too often been associated.
Going back specifically to the issue of healthcare cost reduction, which is a significant one in most areas of the world. It's a potentially landmark issue that can help to change many of the negative perceptions associated with the industry and its players, as well as the nutritional ingredients supplied. It can also help to bridge part of the chasm I noted last week of communicating and providing better and healthier product options. In order for industry to reach its fullest potential in being a player in the ultimate solutions, many current bridges must be reinforced and new bridges with external stakeholders forged.
Efforts are currently underway to strengthen relationships with the insurance industry, the sports community, pharmacists, allopathic practitioners, dieticians and others. Challenging and educating the mainstream media and enabling them to effectively, and in context, access resources that provide at least an opportunity for a balanced presentation of situations and issues has been an ongoing activity that must be stepped up, because the curiosity and creativity of the media must fundamentally be engaged if our industry is to make its potential contribution to some of the current crises including healthcare.