Over the weekend, I went to the One Two Three Swing! exhibition, which has been running at the Tate Modern in London for the last few months.
The artwork, created by the Danish art creative SUPERFLEX, is an interconnected set of swings that weaves its way through the old power station and out into the world. Each set of swings has three seats, as swinging in threes creates greater momentum than swinging alone.
The message from SUPERFLEX is not a hard one to understand: when people put their energies together, they are likely to achieve a greater result. However, attending the exhibition, it was noticeable that most people were either swinging alone or couples swinging with one seat left empty. Only small pockets of people around the artwork were swinging in threes.
Perhaps the reason for this is that people attending this exhibition did not have a good enough reason to link up with strangers and use the swings together, other than to comply with what the artwork’s designers intended.
But in healthcare we have a really compelling reason to work together, as it’s vital if we are to create a more effective and efficient health system. This premise is at the heart of Health Creation, a movement being led by the New NHS Alliance in the UK to enable communities to create their own health solutions.
In the words of the New NHS Alliance Chair Heather Lyne Henry, health creation “is about a social as well as a medical model of health, helping people achieve what really matters to them, while focusing on people´s strengths. We should believe in what people are capable of, if they are given the opportunity.”
However, just like at One Two Three Swing!, there are currently only pockets of people and organisations working together to take control of the health needs of a community.
A great example of health creation in action is The Deal for Health and Wellness in Wigan where issues such as debt, poor housing and social isolation are all considered when assessing a person’s wellness. Good GP services form an important part of the solution but so do better public amenities for exercise, skills for gaining employment and support for families and the elderly. The emphasis is on local, with individuals and community organisations delivering most of the solutions.
Within pharma, AbbVie has taken the lead in supporting the health creation movement as a key sponsor of the New NHS Alliance’s recent event Health Creation: Wealth Creation – The Power of People and Communities. It’s easy to understand why: supporting health creation aligns with the growing public expectation for pharma to show the value it brings to healthcare and society.
It’s also fair to assume that if a patient on a medicine is living in a locality with access to holistic health and social services and they are involved in helping to deliver those services, then they are more likely to achieve better health outcomes than a patient on the same medicine who feels isolated from the community.
For health creation to go from pockets of best practice to a widerspread national response to our health system challenges, greater support and enablement of communities will be required. Pharma and other healthcare providers have an opportunity to join AbbVie in helping to make it happen.
To learn more about Health Creation, read the New NHS Alliance’s manifesto here.