If health is an elusive concept, how much harder it must be to articulate what a healthy community should be. But that should not stop us from grappling with foundational ideas and from sketching a forward-looking vision for a better society. Our guest on this episode is Pritpal Tamber (twitter), a physician who has devoted his career to better understanding what it means to live in a healthy community.
Dr. Tamber is the former Physician Editor of TEDMED, TED’s dedicated health event, a former editor at the British Medical Journal, and the former Medical Director of Map of Medicine, a company that tried to improve the flow of patients through health care on the basis of clinical evidence. Through his work with TEDMED, and informed by his insights into clinical evidence and system change, Dr. Tamber is convinced that the glamorous, tech-led world of health innovation is unlikely to have much impact on the patients with the worst health—those lower down the socioeconomic gradient.
Since 2013, he has spent time with numerous community projects—principally in the US and the UK, but also in The Netherlands, New Zealand, and Mexico—to explore and understand the realities of the work. Through his work he has described 12 recurring principles that offer a practice-based structure for how the health sector can work with communities. Collectively, these principles describe an inclusive and participatory process, effectively illustrating that people are sick because they have little influence over their lives. Social epidemiologists have called this "having a sense of control", and it is something that requires agency—the ability to make purposeful choices.