Our health care system is crippled by often desperate efforts to prevent the inevitable. A third of the national Medicare budget—nearly $175 billion—is spent on the final year of life, and a third of that amount on the final month, typically on expensive and futile treatments. Such efforts betray a fundamental flaw in how we think about health care: we squander resources on hopeless situations, instead of using them to actually improve health.

In Predictive Health, distinguished doctors Kenneth Brigham and Michael M. E. Johns propose a solution: invest earlier—and use the best science and technology to make health care more available and affordable. Every child would begin life with a post-natal genetic screen, when potential risk—say for type II diabetes or heart disease—would be found. More data on biology, behavior, and environment would be captured throughout her life. Using this information, health care workers and the people they care for could forge personal strategies for healthier living long before a small glitch blows up into major disease. This real health care wouldn’t just replace much of modern disease care— it would make it obsolete. The result, according to Brigham and Johns, will be a life defined by a long stay at top physical and mental form, rather than an early peak and long decline. Accomplishing this goal will require new tools, new clinics, fewer doctors and more mentors, smarter companies, and engaged patients. In short, it will require a revolution. Thanks to a decade-long collaboration between Brigham, Johns, and others, it is already underway.

An optimistic plan for reducing or eliminating many chronic diseases as well as reforming our faltering medical system, Predictive Health is a deeply knowledgeable, deeply humane proposal for how we can reallocate expenses and resources to extend the best years of life, rather than prolonging the worst.

Michael M.E. Johns, M.D.

Mike Johns is chancellor and former executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University and former dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Over the past eight years they have collaborated with others to develop the Emory Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute and its Center for Health Discovery and Well Being®.

photo credit ©Jack Kearse


“It will take courage and imagination to fix America’s health care woes and those remedies are precisely what Drs. Brigham and Johns lay out in this brilliant book. From Einstein to Dr. Seuss, Predictive Health underscores that bold thinking is needed to right the course of our broken system. To live and die well requires a fabric of science and humanity and the prescription is between the covers of this book.”

Nancy L. Snyderman, M.D.,
Chief Medical Editor, NBC News,
and Associate Clinical Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Pennsylvania

Predictive Health is a lively and welcome contribution to what promises to be one of the most important coming stages of health care reform: to rethink the goals and aspirations of medicine itself, not merely the delivery of health care. The basic task for medicine now is to maintain good health, not just to fight disease and death. This book shows how technology can help us do that, and what kinds of social and medical changes are necessary to achieve that vital goal.”

Daniel Callahan, Research Scholar and President Emeritus, The Hastings Center, and author of Taming the Beloved Beast: How Medical Technology Costs Are Destroying Our Health Care System

Predictive Health is a remarkable book about a remarkable vision. The fact that there are often diverging views regarding the future of health care is evident; what’s less obvious are straightforward and innovative solutions. Doctors Kenneth Brigham and Michael Johns offer an ingeniously simple proposal—to shift medicine’s focus from treating disease to maintaining and maximizing health. Characteristic of the integrative, forward-looking thinking of Dr. Johns, who long ago established himself as a thought leader in health care, Predictive Health, is essential reading for anyone who is interested in preserving their health.”

Alex Gorsky, CEO, Johnson & Johnson

“In Predictive Health, the authors make a strong case that we must turn our current health care system on its head, focusing not on simply caring for the sick, but on caring for the healthy—and keeping them so. Preventing disease is our greatest weapon in health care today, and Brigham and Johns paint a possible future in which we capitalize on this knowledge fully. Our pocketbooks demand we act on this, as does the fact we can save countless more lives if we do.”

John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., CEO, American Cancer Society

“A clear, insightful vision of a health care system that could bring about a better, healthier world.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review