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Healthcare Upside/Down: The Echo Chamber of Ideas in Healthcare

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ECG’s radio show and podcast, Healthcare Upside Down, offers unfiltered perspectives on what’s working in US healthcare and what’s not. Hosted by ECG principal Dr. Nick van Terheyden, each episode features guest panelists who explore the upsides and downsides of healthcare in the US—and how to make the system work for everyone.

If you’re unfamiliar with Clubhouse, that’s understandable. The social platform launched in April 2020, a time when the world’s attention was squarely focused on the pandemic. And while the platform now boasts an impressive 10 million weekly active users and bills itself as a place “where people around the world come together to talk, listen, and learn from each other in real time,” it would be tempting to dismiss Clubhouse as just another social media app, susceptible the same aggravations that come with being part of an online community—trolls, people pushing products, lots of noise.

David Hunt sees it differently.

“I love the idea that every morning I have a cup of coffee, and I listen to people from all around the world—from all around healthcare—talking about their ideas,” he says.

Dave is the former CEO and digital health officer of Havas Health & You. Six months ago, he started a Clubhouse room called Health.Reconsidered, a healthcare forum that now has upwards of 2,000 members. But there’s more to Health.Reconsidered than talk—Dave is acting on participants’ ideas. He recently started The Considered, a pharma and healthcare marketing agency inspired by his experience in Clubhouse and centered on the maxim of “breaking the rules others follow.”

As our guest on Healthcare Upside Down, Dave talks about what rules in healthcare need to be broken, the importance of listening to customers, and why healthcare and pharma need to seek fresh perspectives from outside their respective fiefdoms. Below are three takeaways from the podcast.

Digital engagement with a patient-centered approach.

Technology has enabled Dave to connect with thousands of people to discuss a wide array of healthcare topics. It’s enabled a free exchange of ideas and connected him with individuals he might never otherwise have interacted with.

Of course, not everyone has reliable internet access or the technical savvy to navigate the latest platforms, whether it’s to share opinions or meet with a provider. Pressed on whether digital health could minimize human interaction and, ironically, push some patients away, Dave argues that digital engagement and patient-centeredness are not mutually exclusive.

“I don’t see how you could not focus on both,” he says. “In terms of trying to unlock and improve outcomes, I think it’s vital that we bridge that divide.”

In fact, he seems to have grown accustomed to people casting doubt on innovative concepts. “I think one of the worst things you can do is…thwart an idea,” he explains. “It just takes more effort, it takes more determination. We need to unlock the benefits of technology for all patients and all communities. It’s too easy to turn around and go, ‘We can’t, we shouldn’t do this.’”

A democratized discussion.

Changing healthcare in the US will require different thinking and ideas. But many of us are guilty of being stuck in our own echo chambers—interacting every day with the same people at work, in social settings, and at conferences.

What Dave seems to value most about his Clubhouse room is the diversity of perspectives. It is a space where users’ geography, income, or job title are less important than their viewpoints. He describes it as “a democratized conversation.”

“I love the fact it does not matter if you’re the CEO of Pfizer or a patient in Eastern Europe,” he says. “I love this equality that comes from the platform.”

Dave seems especially pleased with the forum’s ability to break down silos—within both healthcare and society. “For me, what really stands out is having those points of view coming from around the world, because they’re just very, very different to your own,” he says. “And with that, I think you’ll learn a little bit, and perhaps evolve your own thinking, for the better, in my opinion. So being international, being global, being democratized is a key to its success.” And he’s not afraid to have his own thinking challenged, noting that every day, “I leave smarter than I arrive.”

Breaking the rules.

Dave’s experience on Clubhouse is what led him to develop his newest venture, The Considered, a healthcare marketing agency that endeavors to “break the rules in healthcare communication and find new ways to support healthcare professionals and patients,” in his words. “It’s all just about working with passion, working with creativity, trying to improve health outcomes.”

“Obviously, there are many, many, many good rules that are in place for very, very, very good reasons. And they need to be admired and respected, 100%. Then there are things that just seem to become rules over time. They’re just ways of doing things, and you follow them and go, I’m not sure this makes sense. And those are the rules that we want to break.”

Dave talks more about patient engagement, finding ways to hear different voices, and the concept of health control on Healthcare Upside Down.

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