Despatch 1: Discovering Wellth

Pritpal S Tamber

September 25, 2013

A report on the first discussion between the Wellthcare Explorers

When I was a kid, one of my favourite things was getting lost on my bike. My two best friends and I would set off and take random lefts and rights until we had no idea where we were. Being lost was one of the scariest feelings I have ever had, and yet, together, we thrilled in it, partly because we always knew that together we’d make it back. 

Getting back, however, was never the point; discovery was. New streets with weird names, different cars, more grass than concrete, these were all intoxicating to an urban kid wanting to see beyond the safe streets of the walk from home to school. And, wow, did we have some stories to share the next day. 

Today I’m sharing some grown-up stories – perspectives shared by the Wellthcare Explorers in their first bike ride in search of Wellth, a health-related value that may be created by intimate communities. In this first meeting of the Explorers they were asked what intrigued them about the idea of “Wellth” and what questions they wanted to answer together. 

In the report, which we call a “Despatch”, you’ll read how the Explorers wanted to start with the very basics. Sally Okun challenged us to separate “health” and “care” and talked about having “health in the presence of illness”. Rupert Dunbar-Rees asked who was defining the success of health care, “the people who provide the care [or the people] who receive it”? Kingshuk Das suggested we “decouple [our] traditional notions of providers and explore more complex and rich models of care”. 

Kerry Byrne seemed to rise to Kingshuk’s challenge by suggesting we need to “shift the discourse from focussing on aging and independence to aging and interdependence”, which might be facilitated by keeping “networks strong as people age”. While focusing on younger people, Lisa Shufro talked about helping them to maximise their health by “skilfully leveraging existing connections both at the individual and community level”. 

Scott Liebman asked the Explorers if they really understood “what it is that people value” when it came to their health. He felt we needed to find the “something that drives them to stay healthy”, the implication being it is different for everyone. Taking a more community view, Leigh Carroll, the Wellthcare Correspondent and author of the Despatch, suggested we learn from cultures where “care is provided in the absence of a powerful health system”.

As the conversation – and exploration – found its stride Maneesh Juneja asked whether Wellthcare was in danger of being yet another silo in a world of “specialised and narrowly focussed innovators”. It was an important reminder that he delivered well. 

At the end of the Despatch, you’ll see the big questions the Explorers have tasked themselves to answer. The next meeting is on Tuesday 8th October 2013. It remains my hope that through these exploratory discussions we’ll find a new way of seeing health, communities, and the role of health care. For the moment, though, I am simply thrilled at being lost, partly because I know that together we’re going to arrive somewhere worth searching for.

This post was first co-published on Wellthcare and MedCrunch

Pritpal S Tamber

I’m a doctor who trained as a medical editor and publisher and now researches and consults on the link between community power and health equity. My interest in community power started when I was the Physician Editor of TEDMED and is explained in My Perspective. I also work as a freelance medical editor and publisher for organisations that want to write high-quality articles and a strategy for their publishing and promotion. Find out more on my About page.

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