Pritpal S Tamber MBChB
Founder, Creating Health Collaborative
Pritpal explores the future of health as the founder of the Creating Health Collaborative, an international collective aiming to understand health beyond the lens of health care. He is also the former Physician Editor of TEDMED.
The crisis in health care runs deeper than what's usually discussed. Demand for care is growing all the time due to the growing prevalence of lifestyle-related chronic conditions. The cost of the delivery of care continues to rise primarily due to the rising cost of technologies, such as drugs and devices. Both demand and cost are set to grow even more as a result of ageing, especially once people have three or more chronic conditions, something that’s more likely as we grow old.
Innovation in health care – the best of which often makes it onto the stage at TEDMED – is considered the panacea. And yet, as Pritpal saw as the Physician Editor of TEDMED, the potential in innovation is dwarfed by the size of the crisis. Excitement around ideas like genetic medicine and digital health, for instance, fail to get to the heart of the problem.
The health care industry is designed around treating sickness: how it's accessed, how it's paid for, and what research is conducted is all predicated on sickness. This predication fails to appreciate that health is a means to an end, not the end itself. The true end is for people to lead satisfying lives encompassing things like physical functioning, safety, financial security, emotional security, nourishing relationships, and having a sense of control.
While being healthy, as defined by the health care system, is an important contributor to leading a satisfying life, it is not always the most important – something that the health care industry has struggled to appreciate.
The Creating Health Collaborative is made up of courageous people and projects trying to organise around what people and communities really want. By sharing their work, the members contribute to a new understanding of health, one that goes beyond the health care system. The group has representatives from some of the biggest institutions in health, such as the Mayo Clinic, the University of Toronto, Kaiser Permanente, and Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, as well as courageous upstarts, such as City Health Works and Way To Wellville.
Few people truly understand the crisis facing the future of health, and even fewer are able to communicate it. Pritpal is one such person.
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