Trust is the missing ingredient health care engagement. Let’s show up.

This is Christian. Her superpower is connecting with people from all walks of life. As you look at this picture, what story evolves in your mind about what’s happening here? There is definitely a connection happening but in what context?

Christian is a member of our team at Grapevine Health. We believe there is power in sharing health care stories as a strategy to improve community health literacy and engagement in care. We also believe showing up and getting proximal to those we serve is the best way to build trust. On the day I took this picture, we were tabling at a community event. We use the organ model as a conversation starter. Few can resist the temptation to walk over, touch it, play with the organs or ask a question or two. As the gentleman walked by, staring at the model with an inquisitive look, Christian beckoned him to move closer and try to name the organs. At first he refused saying, “I don’t know that stuff.” She encouraged him to try to name only one organ. His intimidation was pretty obvious but she continued to encourage him to give it a try. He touched an organ and whispered, “is that the liver?” Bursting with pride on his behalf she shouted, “Yes! See? You did it!” That’s the moment captured in the photo. He lingered a few more minutes as she talked to him about his health and the body.

This example highlights the importance of being accessible, approachable and trusted, especially in underserved, minority communities that are often distrustful of the health care system. This distrust often leads many people in underserved communities to dismiss early symptoms and delay health care. Thus, it is our duty as members of the health care community to better understand the root causes of this distrust and design our approaches to engender trust.

For us this means going into communities where the underserved live and play. For too long and even still, our models of care primarily require patients and their loved ones to come to us, in our buildings — no matter how far and inconvenient — and abide by our instructions — no matter how convoluted and complex. As we continue to pursue innovation to improve health care health outcomes, we have to deeply understand and meaningfully connect with those we are serving. Our experiences thus far have convinced us the missing ingredient for achieving sustainable health care engagement is trust. More than anything, this simple value — trust — not tech, not artificial intelligence, not big data, will most profoundly drive the engagement we want. Thus, whether health system, clinic, start up, think tank or however you touch or influence the health care system and value its improvement, it’s time for us all to show up.


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