Making a positive impact on how we approach healthcare gets people (TED) talking. From a look at the Welfare Trap and inequality-induced anxiety to a bold project that makes family caregivers part of the extended healthcare team, these speakers have a lot to say about combatting social determinants of health (SDoH).   

These global perspectives help us re-examine seemingly unsolvable health equity challenges with a new lens, giving us a glimpse of the possibilities if we meet people where they are in their healthcare journey. 

Healthcare innovation in the form of these forward-thinking ideas can help us all drive important changes that affect health plan members and the broader communities in which we live.  

1—Ann-Helén Bay, “Why Is It So Hard To Escape Poverty?”

Poverty is a complicated topic. Ann-Helén Bay, a political science professor at the Oslo Business School, created a short but powerful video that explores a dilemma millions of Americans face: The Welfare Trap.  

This demoralizing situation occurs when people earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and other government assistance, yet not enough to cover basic expenses, much less save for the future. Bay provides ways to empower people to create long-term change in their lives and communities, breaking this generational cycle.  

2—Richard Wilkinson, “The Link Between Inequality And Anxiety” 

Richard Wilkinson is a social epidemiologist in the U.K. In this TED Talk, he uses his expertise in studying the influences of population-level health and illness to explore how inequality leads to higher levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders.  

He says material discrepancies increase feelings of inferiority, and community life and levels of violence are negatively impacted when people feel looked down upon and judged.  

These feelings of superiority and inferiority make us judge one another in a common but destructive social construct that has ramifications for health equity. Unfortunately, some accept this inequality and withdraw, making them more susceptible to depression. This presentation is a strong reminder that our social environments and friendships are crucial to our overall health, and inequality is our common enemy.

Health Equity Recipe

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3—Dr. Shahed Alam And Edith Elliott, “The Most Powerful Untapped Resource In Healthcare”

Overburdened healthcare systems have life-and-death consequences. Noora Health co-founders and co-CEOs Dr. Shahed Alam and Edith Elliott are saving lives by transforming the role of caregivers in India and Bangladesh using technology, data, and love.  

In India alone, there’s a predicted shortage of 18 million healthcare workers by 2030, meaning providers will continue to have too much to do and insufficient support. The Noora team has educated 5,000+ nurses, who in turn have trained 2 million family caregivers eager to care for their loved ones.  

These caregivers now have life-saving skills like wound care and the ability to identify signs of illness or newborn distress to provide cost-free, in-home assistance to their family members.  

The company is focused on training 70 million caregivers across India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Nepal as part of the Audacious Project, revolutionizing how more than 1 billion people experience care in Asia.  

Bonus—Dan Buettner, “How To Live To Be 100+”

Icario was fortunate to welcome Dan Buettner as our Trailblaze 2022 keynote speaker and learn about his “Blue Zones” project. He shared a similar story in this TED Talk, where he notes that while 10% of our genes dictate our longevity, the other 90% comes from lifestyle choices.  

Buettner talks through the “Blue Zones” project, which looks at populations with the oldest residents to understand their successful approach to long-term wellness. During the study, Buettner and his team worked with experts to debunk common myths about health and explore the role of diet, exercise, spirituality, community, and more on longevity. He shares the commonalities found in these geographically dispersed populations and what they tell us about what’s truly important. 

Being Part Of The Solution 

It’s inspiring to hear ideas like the ones presented in these TED Talks. They remind us to lift our focus occasionally from our day-to-day activities to look holistically at healthcare and find fresh ways to tackle age-old challenges with renewed energy.