Community as the centre of health

Is today’s health care system really a ‘health care’ system?

Is it committed to the health, wellbeing and flourishing of individuals and communities? Or is it mostly in the business of ‘sick care’ - treating the ill and helping them get back to average health?

This is one of the questions Tyler Norris explores in this wonderful interview he did as part of the u.Lab 2.0x. ego to eco systems course.

In the interview, Tyler suggests the majority of today’s health care system — 18% of the US economy — focuses on servicing the sick.

However, one of the great ‘untold stories of America’ happening now is a shift from ‘sick care’ to community as the centre of health. It’s a shift that’s happening because of the realisation that most of what makes people healthy is their local community. Their access to healthy food, meaningful work, good education and affordable housing.

It’s happening

Tyler suggests this shift is fundamentally changing the way health care institutions see their role in their community. It’s leading to new business models and long-term partnerships with local, place based initiatives focused on transforming local health outcomes.

Health care institutions are making investments and forming long-term partnerships with affordable local housing projects, healthy fresh food and exercise programs. They are also looking at how they can use their pay role, purchasing and hiring to contribute to community health. As a result, health care institutions are becoming valuable leaders for wellbeing within their communities.

Schools and businesses as wellbeing catalysts

This way of thinking is also emerging in other local, community based institutions. Schools and businesses are also implementing wellbeing programs with a view to contribute to the health of their people and their local community.

As Tyler points out, health and wellbeing is a challenge that requires distributed leadership, with many people and institutions working together in meaningful ways to co-create local outcomes.

Bright signs to bright systems

It’s clear a new pattern for health and wellbeing is emerging.

The bigger question is, what will it take for the whole system to shift. From bright signs of innovation to bright systems ?

This is one of the key questions explored as part of the u.Lab 2.0x course. If it’s a question you’re curious about, we’d encourage you to get involved.