One of my favorite Dr. Seuss characters is the narrator featured in the book, I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla-Sollew. I frequently use this book when conducting futures and scenario planning sessions with clients in health/care.

“The story opens with our happy-go-lucky narrator taking  a stroll through the Valley of Vung where nothing went wrong,” the Seussblog explains. Then one day, our hero (shown here on the right side of the picture from the book) is not paying attention to where he is walking….thus admitting,

“And I learned there are troubles of more than one kind, some come from ahead and some come from behind.”

Our hero decides, as the text quotes him, “to start to be twice as careful and be twice as smart….aiming my eyeballs in different directions.”

As we enter Year 3 of the COVID-19 pandemic, social and civic chasms and economic uncertainty (inflation, health care costs, Great Resignations), I took this page out of Dr, Seuss in my last monthly post for Medecision’s Liberate Health blog.

By casting my eyeballs in different directions across the health/care ecosystem, I came up with the following data-driven plotline for your 2022 strategic and scenario planning toolkit….

  • The pandemic persists
  • U.S> consumers are “shrugging off” Omicron
  • Medical costs and debt will continue to rise
  • Patients’ postponing health care will continue for some, resulting in worse prognoses for them along with the need for providers to engage people where they are to bolster trust in their return to care sites
  • Mortality will be up in the U.S. along with health disparities and inequities
  • Telehealth will help many people meet up with health care access — but not necessarily universally or equitably
  • Mental health will continue to be the epidemic beyond the pandemic
  • Healthcare delivery will be omnichannel, featuring digital front doors and new primary care on-ramps
  • Consumers and their health care will shift more to “home”
  • All organizations will be in the health ecosystem, dealing with challenges in hybrid workplaces, scheduling return-to-work dates and designing protocols, and dealing with the physical and mental health care challenges of long and persistent COVID in their communities.

While not one of his most successful books,

Dr. Seuss recognized that Solla-Sollew was not one of his most successful books. But the Seussblog notes that the book’s message,

“is a great one. We can’t just run away from our troubles. There is no place in the world that doesn’t have troubles, so no matter where you go, you will always run into tough times.”

As we turn the page for a New Year, we all make resolutions, promising ourselves to learn from a year’s worth of mistakes and mis-steps and resolving to do better. Given the data I laid out in my Medecision industry overview, I would suggest some of those resolutions we adopt for our 2022 health/care planning objectives address some complement of the following challenging and audacious goals: pick one, pick more than one…

  • Help to solve health disparities and bolster health equity collaborating with other organizations. There are many facets to this issue, and you can focus in on one or more of them depending on your own lens, business and personal values — targeting DE&I gaps, caregivers. rare disease communities, or other gaps in health justice
  • Review and clarify your organization’s privacy, security, and data hygiene protocols to build trust with patients and caregivers
  • Address deficiencies with patient billing, payment, and transparency getting to know the No Surprises Act, working on healthcare financial literacy, and channeling access programs to people who need that support
  • Continue to promote COVID-19 vaccinations, boosters, and the self-care routines such as masking with effective facial coverings and physical distancing, along with testing
  • Be kind to your local health care providers; support their community initiatives (see previous bullet point), and ask your local hospital(s) what you or your organization can do to help the impending provider shortage (nurses, doctors)
  • Learn more about climate change’s impact on health care and what you and your organization can do to help re-shape the future. Do this for climate change, and for other environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals that the health care industry must embrace in and beyond 2022.

Finally, I recommend learning from The Greater Good Gratitude Project and in particular the work of Dr. Leif Hass on prescribing health and happiness. Dr. Hass is a physician with the Sutter Health care system in northern California and collaborates with colleagues on recommending, in the words of this special prescription pad, “a dose of joy and self-compassion.”

These recommendations are based on a scientific evidence base and include such line items as taking a few deep breaths, calling an old friend, giving someone a hug, helping a friend in need, and going for a walk in a beautiful place, among other self-care life-flows.

In this particular “old school” paper Rx, Dr. Hass recommends that patient Suzie S. also “spread the love” and “watch a sunset” as needed.

As we all enter 2022, we can all use a dose of joy and self-compassion.

And best of all….you can self-prescribe these remedies.

Everyone, be well, and healthy, happy, joyful New Year to all…

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