We’ve all experienced the crushing agony of a heartbreak, or the deep foundational stress of worrying about how you’ll pay all your bills, or the isolating and bleak reality of a mum or dad or loved one whose health is failing in a way you can’t figure out how to stop – or fix. Life is hard. Now – how hard is all relative … but for most of us, our days are consumed on some level with a pretty significant level of worry. Did you overextend when you bought that house? Is so-and-so gunning for your job? Is it wrong that you secretly and deeply resent your partner because you’re sick of them “never doing anything”?
And how about the real worries – will you have food, electricity, heat, clothing, safety…the worries that consume more people than any of us would care to imagine (The Shriver Report has 1 out of 3 women living ‘on the brink’ – in other words, right smack dab in this reality). For fun – let’s try an exercise marriage counselors use for marriages that are in trouble…they have each of you sit down and write on a piece of paper what matters to you, and what you think matters to your partner. Then they compare the two. And what do you think stands out in stark testament to the current state of the relationship? Pretty much zero overlap. You don’t understand what matters to me, and I don’t understand what matters to you.
Let’s extend that analogy to the healthcare space…picture a typical day for many of us in the health communication space, for example. How are we spending our days? Dreaming up new and more imaginative ways to lecture about the importance of getting a colon cancer screening, or eating well, or taking your blood pressure medication, or getting in for your annual Medicare wellness visit, or or or…
And a question for those of us working on this stuff. If you turned all that passion and intensity you bring with you to work, and to the task of telling others how to live in a way that complies with HEDIS this or STAR that or [insert any other traditional health quality metric here]…if you turned that lens on yourself – how are you doing? Do you eat the way you should? How’s your weight? Do you sleep the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night? How are you on your preventive screenings – are you up to date? Did you exercise at all in the last week?
I’d bet the answer to all those questions is “no”. Continue reading “Health is Life”
Filed Under: OP-ED, THCB
Tagged: Alexandra Drane, RWJF, stress, Unmentionables
Feb 5, 2015
Most of us find ourselves pretty fascinating… flipping through photos and slowing down for the ones where we’re included, tweeting our favorite tidbits of information, facebook-ing progress on this or that…
We find other people captivating as well. In fact, there’s a meme going around on facebook where people share a handful of things that most people don’t know about them – and there’s a great joy in learning these tidbits about the friends and family we think we know so well.
This Thanksgiving, we’re asking our friends and family to try this exercise, but with a twist – we want to know how they’d answer just five questions on their end-of-life preferences.
What? Are you CRAZY? Talk about how you’d want to die over Thanksgiving? Yup – that’s exactly what we’re suggesting. You know why? Because this is a conversation you absolutely want to have exactly when you DON’T need to have it… and it’s a conversation you need to have with your loved ones. Our hope for you this Thanksgiving is that you’ll have the luxury of checking both those boxes.
Continue reading “We Love to Talk About Our Lives. What About Our Deaths?”
Filed Under: THCB
Tagged: Alexandra Drane, End of life decisions, Engage with Grace, Leigh Calabrese-Eck, Matthew Holt
Nov 27, 2013
Our family debates a lot of things over our dinner table – the best Looney Toon character, politics, whether or not (and where or when) something is appropriate… For many of these topics, there are no right answers and no wrong answers – just a whole lot of discussion and opinions.
A few months ago, on the heels of the Health 2.0 conference, a small group of us gathered in a San Francisco kitchen for one of the most powerful experiences most of us had ever had around a dinner table.
Continue reading “Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death”
Filed Under: THCB
Tagged: Alexandra Drane, Death Dinner, End of life decisions, Engage with Grace, Health 2.0, Michael Hebb, Scott Macklin, TEDMED, TEDMED 2013
Mar 21, 2013
We talk to people every day about the barriers, fears, and motivations they have around their health, and often have the luxury of funneling the insights we learn back into the larger healthcare ecosystem. So here’s a doozy: recent Eliza survey data (from October 2012) suggests that 82% of people say they would like their health plan more if they were more proactive about covered health care benefits … and two-thirds of people believe that their health plan is not telling them enough about what’s going on with healthcare reform and how it will impact their care in the coming years.
Based on this data, we wanted to dig a bit deeper into what exactly we can tell people to expect on that front. So we engaged Jeff Goldsmith and Charlie Baker in a conversation on everything from whether or not the Affordable Care Act is implementable (2:50) to the readiness of state and federal exchanges (5:00) to how employers will be stepping up to fill in critical health components (10:15) to the impact of increasing consolidation (15:00) to how the physician realm can keep a semblance of competitive tension in the provider networks (25:25).
And finally, we asked them the question we should all be asking ourselves: will the care you are going to get in 2015 be better than the care you got in 2009? [40:41]
Click here to listen to the Podcast.
The good news is that many of these trends can be addressed through strategies like a stronger consumer-focused angle; higher-touch yet lower-cost communication between healthcare organizations and the people they serve; and a deeper understanding of how to proactively encourage health in both traditional (preventive health) and not-so-traditional (patient advocacy) ways. All eminently doable, right?
So listen, learn, and enjoy… and most importantly, stay ferociously committed to a healthier 2013 for all of us.
Alexandra Drane is the Chief Visionary Officer of Eliza.
Filed Under: The Business of Health Care
Tagged: Alexandra Drane
Jan 19, 2013
One of our favorite things we ever heard Steve Jobs say is … “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” We love it for three reasons: 1) It reminds all of us that living with intention is one of the most important things we can do. 2) It reminds all of us that one day will be our last. 3) It’s a great example of how Steve Jobs just made most things (even things about death – even things he was quoting) sound better.
Most of us do pretty well with the living with intention part – but the dying thing? Not so much. And maybe that doesn’t bother us so much as individuals because heck, we’re not going to die anyway!! That’s one of those things that happens to other people …
Then one day it does – happen to someone else. But it’s someone that we love. And everything about our perspective on end of life changes.
If you haven’t personally had the experience of seeing or helping a loved one navigate the incredible complexities of terminal illness, then just ask someone who has. Chances are nearly 3 out of 4 of those stories will be bad ones – involving actions and decisions that were at odds with that person’s values. And the worst part about it? Most of this mess is unintentional – no one is deliberately trying to make anyone else suffer – it’s just that few of us are taking the time to figure out our own preferences for what we’d like when our time is near, making sure those preferences are known, and appointing someone to advocate on our behalf.
Goodness, you might be wondering, just what are we getting at and why are we keeping you from stretching out on the couch preparing your belly for onslaught?
Thanksgiving is a time for gathering, for communing, and for thinking hard together with friends and family about the things that matter. Here’s the crazy thing – in the wake of one of the most intense political seasons in recent history, one of the safest topics to debate around the table this year might just be that one last taboo: end of life planning. And you know what? It’s also one of the most important.
Here’s one debate nobody wants to have – deciding on behalf of a loved one how to handle tough decisions at the end of their life. And there is no greater gift you can give your loved ones than saving them from that agony. So let’s take that off the table right now, this weekend. Know what you want at the end of your life; know the preferences of your loved ones. Print out this one slide with just these five questions on it.
Continue reading “Engage with Grace this Thanksgiving”
Filed Under: THCB
Tagged: Alexandra Drane, End of life decisions, Engage with Grace
Nov 21, 2012