Liberation is more than just a philosophy—it’s also about taking action. That’s why this year’s Liberation 2019 was such an exciting event for those eager to identify and actualize strategies for transforming care in the real world. One session where these ideas emerged was led by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, health economist, author and trend-weaver.


By Regena Frieden, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Medecision

In October 2019, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn walked a highly engaged Liberation 2019 audience through a discussion about TiSH (Trust, Stress and Health literacy) among consumers, detailing the importance of humanizing technology and using it to scale our humanity. In other words, how can we make technology and data more relevant and useful for our day-to-day lives—and change individuals’ health for the better?

Sarasohn-Kahn began by addressing the idea of individuals’ “digital needs” alongside Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Basic needs are now being met with technology that makes life more convenient, such as telemedicine apps, online health portals or even ride-sharing apps, while social and belonging needs are often met with social sharing platforms.

She identified three specific “now moments” or societal signposts that showcase how healthcare consumers are expressing their demands and needs:

  1. Kids are now helping their parents hack EpiPen dosing because they can’t afford the potentially life-saving therapy’s high cost.
  2. CBD oil is everywhere, but it’s highly unregulated, with some studies discussing the potential risk factors. Consumers are wondering if its benefits are as good as promised or if it’s just a panacea or placebo.
  3. Consumers are also taking matters into their own hands when it comes to paying for serious health issues by purchasing coupons on Groupon or fundraising on GoFundMe.

Trust, Stress and Health Literacy

Addressing the epidemic of TiSH requires collaboration with all types of ecosystem partners. No one entity or company can do it on their own. But by combining the latest technology with a focus on big picture problems that erode happiness, trust and respect, we can begin chipping away at the issues that lead to high costs and poor health in our society.

Trust as a Means to Drive Engagement and Adherence

Trust is the No. 1 factor that serves as a precursor to health engagement, according to research conducted in development with the Edelman Trust Barometer. But, before consumer engagement can be examined, the trust issue needs to be examined. Studies show that patients who feel respected are more compliant with treatment. As a result, respect has a real and meaningful ROI.

When Gallup asked Americans which professions in America are most honest, the top three answers were nurses, pharmacists and doctors. These people are our “ace in the hole” as an industry. We need to leverage these individuals to ensure people feel a high level of trust and respect with every healthcare interaction.

Stress About Healthcare Issues and Costs Abounds

The leading cause of stress in our nation is healthcare. Think about that for a moment: An industry committed to heal people and make their lives better is creating more stress than the economy, the government or issues involving crime in our communities. And this stress is present regardless of income. Even people who made more than $50,000 annually felt that worrying about the cost of health insurance was more stressful than uncertainty about their future.

“More people in America are more afraid of paying for healthcare versus getting a bad diagnosis,” Sarasohn-Kahn said. “There is something wrong with that picture.”

Health and Digital Literacy

People who don’t understand how to navigate the healthcare system due to low health literacy are more likely to visit the ER and have more hospital stays; they are also less likely to be adherent with treatment and experience higher mortality. In the past, the healthcare industry often thought about health literacy in the context of people taking medication correctly and understanding specific treatment issues. Yet there is a growing digital literacy component, too. For example, many don’t know how to use and manage their Health Savings Account or look up their claims information online. In today’s world, this financial and health information is often digitally linked. So when we talk about social determinants of health (SDOH), we really need to be thinking about digital access as a basic human need.

Health Happens Everywhere

Our society is plagued by issues like obesity, loneliness and mental health challenges. Patients and providers are looking for help beyond healthcare to help address these issues. Much of that help can come in the form of new tech and data, as long as it’s used to meet people where they are and respect their values.

Healthcare can happen in all kinds of unexpected places—in our internet-connected cars, in our shopping centers or on our screens. So, we need to think beyond the norm when it comes to providing healthcare support. There are plenty of groups and corporations exploring novel ways to lend a hand, including:

  • Meals on Wheels is now helping to address home safety issues by encouraging those who deliver meals to build trust with those they serve and identify when they need extra help and support.
  • Companies like Cigna are combating stigma around mental health by using celebrities and influencers to talk about anxiety, depression and loneliness.
  • Kaiser is making a significant investment in developing a platform of data points to help address SDOH.
  • When Whirlpool discovered that many children were skipping school because they didn’t have clean clothes, the company began donating washing machines and dryers to schools in areas with needy populations.

These types of innovative efforts make a lasting difference in the lives of people, both in their traditional healthcare interactions and outside of them.

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