A guest post by Jennifer Bennet, Executive Director for The Family Van
As IHI’s Maureen Bisognano has been saying of late, we need to flip healthcare from "What's the Matter" with you to "What Matters to You?" While I am in complete agreement with her, our healthcare system has a lot of catching up to do. When we highlight the stories of our successes, the times where our patients not only survived but thrived, what mattered to them were relationships.
Why are community health workers so successful? Relationships. They are from where you live; they shop in your supermarket, and take the same bus to work or school.
Why did my husband Wayne lose 40 pounds? Because, after his heart attack, his friends got him up and moving and on his bike. Relationships.
Why did Dr. Dudley, one of our longstanding clients at The Family Van, call to sing Happy Birthday just this week, to one of our staff? Relationships.
This is too often the last thing that health care pays attention to and values.
And this doesn’t mean health care has to be more expensive. In fact, just the opposite. Mobile Clinics have been proving that they change lives and improve health utilizing people and resources far more efficiently, including the community health worker. He or she is the person who lives in your neighborhood, who understands your challenges, who gets why you can’t buy fresh fruit, take a walk after work, or why you eat fast food. I’m not suggesting that this is a wholesale solution but an important piece of the health care puzzle.
So let’s flip healthcare, and value What Matters to You by paying for mobile health clinics and community health workers. They have been doing what matters for years.