Let’s Stop Trying To Force Consumers To ‘Engage’ With Their Health Care

In his latest column for Forbes, 7wire’s Managing Partner Glen Tullman says instead of pushing “engagement” on health consumers, let’s talk about how we “empower” people with chronic diseases by providing them with the tools to escape the shadow of their illnesses.

Read the full article here and an excerpt below:

“Health care is full of buzzwords. The latest is “engagement.” The theory behind it is that all will be well if we can just get people—especially those with chronic diseases—more involved with their illnesses. But what if the opposite is true?

Let’s do a simple experiment. Imagine you have a chronic disease. Someone approaches you, asking whether you’d like to be more engaged with your diabetes or lupus or Crohn’s disease. Whether you actually have one of these conditions or not, you can easily imagine that your answer would be a categorical “no.” The failures of Google Health and of a host of engagement-dependent wellness programs in general drive the point home. People want to beless engaged with their chronic diseases. They want to focus on living their lives, not on their problems.

It’s ridiculous to pretend that most chronically ill patients don’t already have their diseases top of mind. But asking them to dwell further on conditions that already impact so many facets of their lives is surely a losing proposition. What consumers want is to be able to think beyond whatever it is that burdens them. And in reality, however frustrating it is to those of us who are working to improve health and reduce the costs of everyone’s health care, that’s the way many chronically ill patients behave. The National Community Pharmacist Association reported last year that by not taking their medications, patients add about $290 billion annually to health care costs in this country. And it goes well beyond skipping prescriptions.  The Center for Disease Control reports that about half of Americans treated for hypertension don’t adhere to the long-term therapy recommendations of their doctors. And if the folks with chronic diseases don’t engage with their health regimes, why would anybody think that healthy consumers want to?”

Forbes: Let’s Stop Trying To Force Consumers To ‘Engage’ With Their Health Care