Elisa Soulier is the Vice Chair for the Get Healthy Utah Board. She works as Director of Health and Wellbeing at Castell. She focuses on delivering more high value holistic care for patients, our community, and healthcare system partners.
Does anyone else share in my disbelief that we’re at the halfway point of 2023? Are you looking back at goals set in January? As I’ve reflected and done some accounting, I realize my goals are really needs not met…yet. For example, I set a goal to sign up for ballroom dance classes (which I did!). The goal wasn’t only to take a dance class - it was my need to find a fun activity outside of the gym that enables social connection. I recently had the opportunity to complete the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business Design Thinking for Better Outcomes course. An insight that’s relevant to my message was that needs are verbs, not nouns - there is usually a desire to feel or do something behind the actual thing.
U.S. trends in healthcare, such as increased spending of $4.3 trillion in 2021, indicate we may not effectively be meeting patient needs. Unfortunately, even though Utah is a healthier state on average, we’re also not immune to seeing concerning health trends when considering rising obesity rates.
In healthcare, there is a tendency to focus on what the system needs. For example, we need a patient to come for an annual wellness visit in support of quality measures and prevention of avoidable utilization. Whereas the patient may want a visit but also need transportation, education on what to eat, and a safe environment to be active. They need these things to experience fuller lives and not more healthcare, and we know the majority of health is impacted outside the clinic walls. I urge us to not only focus on problems related to ballooning costs and worsening outcomes, but to also fall in love with solving the potential problem of not actually meeting the needs of our community where health is impacted most.
With our shared strategic vision to create greater health for Utahns, strong collaboration, and collective expertise, we can close the needs gap. It requires being creative and quick to adapt, having deep empathy, partnering closely with community members, and spending sufficient time understanding the problem to design solutions which truly meet individual health and wellness needs. Please