There are ten New Rules of health engagement, according to the health communications guress Nancy Turett at Edelman:

1 Provide deep content.
2 Be transparent.
3 Inform in real time.
4 Participate actively in conversations across multiple channels.
5 Engage in prevention, chronic health problems and access to health care.
6 Take a holistic approach to health and well-being.
7 Address people’s multiple stakes in health, including their personal ones.
8 Be personal.
9 Engage through health-expert channels and sources.
10 Consider the risks of not engaging.

You can reach more in-depth on these New Rules at the Edelman blog, Engage in Health, which spotlights their work on the Health Engagement Barometer.

Yesterday, Nancy asked me to react to these New Rules. I did; and here’s what I wrote…

I’m inspired today on two fronts at the moment: first, by a Twitter message from Gilles Frydman (who goes by KosherFrog on Twitter), Founder of the Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR), which says, “Tell me & I’ll forget. Show me & I may remember. Involve me & I’ll understand.” A Chinese proverb, Gilles asks in Twitter shorthand, “could this be the motto for Participatory Medicine?”

I’m also enthused about the new book by Robert Samuelson, The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of Affluence. Samuelson, who writes about economics for Newsweek and the Washington Post, sees the new fiscal era we’ve entered is one of “affluent deprivation.”

The Harris Harris Poll released on 9th January 2008 confirms this reality. Over 1 in 2 Americans expects to cut back on household spending and 42% expect to save more in the next year. Only 16% of Americans say they do not expect to do anything different financially in 2009.

77% of people say they are responsible for how financially secure they will feel in 2009.

Thus, we will feel poorer, Samuelson writes, because we’ll be paying more in taxes, for energy, and for our personal health care. That’s a given, seeing as we Americans are about to take on about $1 trillion worth of a deficit as a nation under Team Obama.

We economists are thought to be dismal scientists. But Gilles’ tweet, and Nancy Turett’s New Rules of Health Engagement, gives me cause for optimism.

Nancy writes about the virtues of deep content, transparency, real-time-ness, dialogue, prevention, whole health, personalization, expertise, stakeholder engagement, and the risks of not engaging.

It is this last line item that I find most compelling. The New Economy has driven us in the U.S. toward health system disruption. We were heading there anyway, as I’ve written a lot about for the past several years. But the New Economy affects all of us, from Donald Trump and Madoff’s investors to the GM worker who may or may not be laid off, to manage personal health without health insurance.

In this era of affluent deprivation, risk management will pay off across all aspects of our lives, from the fiscal to the physical.

As Gilles’ Chinese wisdom tells us, “Involve me and I’ll understand.” Addressing Nancy’s 9 virtues, from content and transparency to embracing whole health, will get stakeholders – whether consumer or health plan, biotech researcher or policymaker – to engagement. Engagement will lead to working together toward a better health system on a macro scale, and better health outcomes on a very personal level.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Read more about “affluent deprivation” in Samuelson’s Newsweek column on the subject. The state-of-mind is already changing Americans’ health behaviors. Sometimes behaviors in a world of affluent deprivation change for the better, as in the case of prevention and using Nintendo Wii’s for exercise. But sometimes, health behaviors change for the worse, when people postpone or forgo a prescription drug fill to manage a chronic condition. Or, when a person feels ill and believes they should see a doctor, but doesn’t to avoid the cost of the visit.

In an era of affluent deprivation, we need to look for the value in being more engaged in personal health: to prevent illness, engage in whole health, and when we perceive something’s amiss, to seek counsel from experts. Health plans and reformers need to keep this new mind-set in their own minds in health plan designing so citizens feel empowered to make sound decisions that bolster health outcomes for themselves, and for the larger community.

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