All of Us

A New Day for Old Stories

by Chris McSwain

So here we are in July 2021, and Los Angeles county just reinstated their indoor mask mandate. There are questions about the Delta variant and the waning immunity and the need for Moderna or Pfizer booster shots.

Chris's article resonates now.

Chris McSwain is the CEO and co-founder of ThinkX, Inc. He serves AiRCare Health as an Executive Advisor, Vida Health as a Commercial Advisor, and Eden Health as an Employer Advisory Board member.

A global leader motivated and dedicated to making the world a better place, Chris believes the best way to learn about the country is to see it first hand. Chris and his wife are modern day explorers, traveling across the U.S. in a motorhome.  

MakeUsWell edited Chris's write-up for clarity and length.

Getting consumers to regularly wear masks and wash hands sounds simple. It would also seem straightforward for consumers to trust taking the vaccines proven successful in treating COVID.

So why don’t people do what they know is best for them?    

Key issues the healthcare industry has tried to tackle over the past thirty years include sticking with a healthy diet, exercising regularly, managing stress, and adhering to medicines. The irony is that consumers typically know the right things to do, but seldom follow them regularly, if at all.  

The following draws from some old stories of team accomplishments from 2004 to 2014 while I was at SCANA, Whirlpool and/or Walmart.  

Trust And Leadership

This is foundational. Without trust, forget about real change.

To build trust means consistently showing people you want to help them, that you put them first. You want what is best for them—not the employer, healthcare company, or other entity paying. You do not have alternative motives.    

Successfully designing, developing, and implementing change also requires a special set of leadership skills.

Leaders need the courage to listen. The people we want to help nearly always have the answers. We must have the humility to listen, and the perseverance to marshall change through bureaucratic organizations. (While never intended, organizations often treat anything new like a virus, and try to attack it from the inside.)

The teams I have served showed me the most successful intervention occurs when  individuals have the latitude to make the best choices for themselves. In most cases people know what to do—it’s not an information problem. But the key is that they have to figure out what works best for them, not to be told it can be done only one way.

Peer To Peer Communications

People follow people, not information. Seeing others change provides encouragement they can change too.

Along with establishing trust, having a person’s life changed for the better attracts positive attention from others in their circle of family and colleagues. Nothing is more powerful than testimony from those you know, especially those you work or live with.    

Location, Location, Location

We have to meet people where they are, on their home turf so to speak. The key is to look for ways to reach people through their normal activities at work and in their communities.

Mobile medical units can visit worksites to provide required OSHA and DOT physicals and follow ups.

For one employer, we had an on-site pharmacist, EAP counsellor, and other wellbeing professionals meet with employees and their families in person. We actually had a clinical pharmacist go from site to site, building relationships—and trust.    

In another situation, we gathered about 40 pastors to talk about health and wellbeing, along with the role they can play in the lives of their congregants.

Don’t limit your thinking to physician offices, hospitals, and other typical clinical settings. Using familiar places—where people worship, shop, recreate—can remove barriers to compliance.

My Trusted Clinician

When we typically think of healthcare, the pharmacist—rather than the doctor—is often the clinician we feel most comfortable sharing the whole truth with. This was definitely the case for me.

The person I thought had “superpowers” was indeed my pharmacist. He had a way about him that just melted away apprehension and fear. Completely humble, soft spoken, and authentic. He 100% went the extra mile for each person. Stories of him meeting with people after hours to ensure they had what they needed spread like wildfire. He was revered because people knew he cared, and as a result they trusted and listened to him.

Old stories of success can greatly contribute to our chances of overcoming our present daily challenges. Quality of life is directly supported by healthy communities. By focusing on the positive and understanding we can promote change that makes us stronger together.