Healthcare is underpinned by what’s sometimes defined as the ‘biomedical model’: the system responds when people are sick (with treatment) or likely to become sick (through prevention). As populations age, diagnosis gets sharper and care gets ever more expensive, the model is unsustainable, argues Dr Pritpal S Tamber: “People and communities… don’t necessarily seek perfect health. They want to lead satisfying lives with definitions of satisfaction as individual as they are. Being healthy, as defined by the biomedical model, is only part of it.”
With his Creating Health Collaborative, Tamber seeks to understand health from the perspective of communities, rather than the health care systems that serve them. By doing so, he hopes to make clear that, while valuable, healthcare systems are limited when it comes to how communities think of their health. Communities’ focus on ‘life satisfaction’ goes beyond what health care systems can do, necessitating a deeper discussion on how local money is spent.
The impetus for this idea was three talks at TEDMED 2013. “America Bracho made the point that we needed to let communities shape solutions so they were culturally relevant and hence more likely to work. Sally Okun illustrated the difference in how patients describe their illness and how healthcare does, and the clear mismatch between the two. And Sue Desmond-Hellman said it as plainly as possible; citizens are the ones best placed to find the solutions in health and healthcare as they’re the ones with most at risk.”
Chris Moss has been writing on travel, tech, sex, food, art and books for nearly two decades. He co-founded street paper Hecho en Buenos Aires, writes regularly for the Guardian and Telegraph newspapers, and is now writing a thriller set in Andalusia.
Dr Pritpal S Tamber, Founder