The Health Section

Mindfulness and medicine: future of health care

Mindfulness and medicine could play a significant role in improving the health of communities across the country, according to three experts coming from very different perspectives. 

An unusual pairing of a chairman and CEO of a Fortune 50 company, one of the world’s most renowned mindfulness teachers and a U.S. Congressman at the recent Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco carried a single, compelling message: Individual health is a more than a physical condition; individual health is what happens when people are productive and happy because they feel economically, culturally, socially and spiritually viable.

Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini joined mindfulness leader Jon Kabat-Zinn for a discussion called “Mindfulness and Medicine: The Future of Health Care.” The conversation was facilitated by Tim Ryan, a U.S representative from Ohio and the author of “A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit.” 

Mark Bertolini (l) and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Bertolini highlighted Aetna’s success with mindfulness-based wellness programs and the company’s continued commitment to expanding mindfulness programs throughout the communities it serves. He also discussed Aetna’s decision to improve wages and benefits for employees, and how mindfulness has influenced and improved Aetna’s overall culture.

During the session, Ryan expressed support for Bertolini’s pioneering approach in Corporate America. “I’m amazed at how progressive you are and your company is,” Ryan said. “If we had 20 other CEOs like you, you can imagine where our country would be.”

Highlights of the mindfulness and medicine conversation included:

Redefining what success means in health care.  Bertolini noted that “Success is really healthy individuals who are productive; productive individuals are economically, culturally, socially and spiritually viable; and viable people are happy. And if we can do that individual by individual and community by community, we’d have a much better world.”

The importance of increasing the focus within the health care system on supporting ongoing health and wellness, as opposed to treating more acute conditions and illness.

A timely and relevant advantage of improving the health care system and the health of individuals: Better societal health can also have a significant impact on the financial stability of the country.

Click here to watch the full 30-minute conversation.