True value is a shared value

By | May 9, 2017

As we continue to move towards a healthcare model that delivers on value, we need to focus on those being served and how we create shared value. If we want to make an impact, we must focus on how we create a culture of health. A recent article by Chandra et al in Health Affairs, Drivers of Health as a Shared Value: Mindset, Expectations, Sense of Community, And Civic Engagement, discusses the building blocks needed. If we do not think about the framework that is foundational to changing our culture, we will continue to struggle because we will design models that miss the mark.

A major component of this change is the idea that we must focus on health, not healthcare. If those we serve do not value their overall health and well-being, we will continue to struggle with delivering healthcare that meets their needs.

Focusing on making health a shared value of all is paramount, and important to our efforts to eliminate disparities. As a society of individuals, we have to view health and well-being as something for all that reside within our society, instead of just being a privilege defined by external factors. The health of individuals and the health of the entire community are interdependent on each other, and should not be separated. We must shift our focus on how to create an environment that enhances the health of both individuals and the communities in which they live and interact.

We first need to create a common, communal understanding that individuals and communities are interdependent. The individual is responsible for him or herself and how he or she fits within the community, and reciprocally, communities need to structure themselves for the betterment of individuals. We must create a sense of belonging and membership.

This civic engagement requires a different approach to participation. As the Health Affairs article cited above points out, cross-sector alignment is needed with a commitment that health and well-being are a priority. We in healthcare need to learn from the fields of empowerment research, social psychology, community organizational structures, and other social movement theory. We also need to focus on these components within the framework of health equity and disparities.

This approach requires us to take a much longer view. Without understanding the fundamentals of human behavior, both at the individual and community level, we will not make meaningful and sustainable change. The collective realization that we are in this together will require different partnerships and learnings to create a better future that promotes health and well-being.

If we take such an approach, we will enhance the health of all, and all will enhance the health of the individual. Those in healthcare intuitively understand these concepts, but have historically not focused on creating models that include these different realms. Only when we shift our mindset and activities to encompass these aspects will we be able to truly improve the care we deliver and see the results: better health for all, and a greater society.