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  • Who Will Win Consumer Healthcare?

    The answer may surprise you Many leaders of industry are competing to create a new consumer healthcare experience, with a focus on digitizing healthcare. And yes, healthcare needs to catch up with the digital revolution, but creating consumer digital experiences for something as tedious as health is a bit more complicated than simply creating an app for your phone. Healthcare suffers from a narrative that no one wants to be a part of. From the pedantic 15 minute clinician-patient interactions, to the punitive prior authorization process, to the pervasive fragmentation of care policy, our story of healthcare is broken. Digitization won’t be the simple fix we seek. When we envision a healthcare experience we all want to be a part of, we must be bold. And as consumerization of healthcare becomes the future, an unlikely convergence of health and entertainment peaks beyond the horizon. In order to change the narrative of healthcare, we need an experience that is easy, engaging and empowering. We need it to be fan-worthy. What Is Fan-Worthy? When something is fan-worthy, it’s an experience you want to be a part of again and again. Looking towards entertainment, a fan-worthy experience is participatory for the audience, encourages co-creation and most importantly, is driven by story. Take Star Trek for example. The nearly 60 year old entertainment franchise was saved from extinction by its fans. Fans who took their beloved sci-fi story and made it their own — through conventions, creations, and continued play. Star Trek fans immersed themselves in the world of space exploration, continuing the story even after the screen faded to black. A fan-worthy experience, be it in entertainment or healthcare, is one where people are in a story they love and feel empowered to keep continuing it. What Does This Look Like? So if consumer healthcare must be fan-worthy to succeed, what would it look like? Let’s look at the current consumer healthcare competition. While Big Tech and Big Retail battle it out, a third category is emerging: entertainment. Entertainment provides the trojan horse for healthcare to be consumer-friendly and fan-worthy. The companies that lean into entertainment to create a new healthcare experience will have an advantage and for those companies who already have entertainment lines of business, they have the opportunity of a lifetime to change healthcare. Here are some of the companies that could win consumer healthcare with some help from entertainment: Walmart With their recent news about getting back into entertainment by offering streaming to its members, Walmart is taking the Amazon bull by the horn. Walmart has been rolling out a new primary healthcare offering for its members years before Amazon acquired One Medical. Having just inked a new partnership with Paramount+, this lifestyle brand will soon transform shopping, watching and care into a consumer health flywheel. Imagine you’re watching an episode of Yellowstone on Paramount+ which you get as part of your Walmart+ membership. As soon as the episode ends, a notification is sent to your phone reminding you that you’re due for an annual exam. With a click of a button you schedule an appointment at a local Walmart Care Clinic. After your appointment, you pick up the week’s groceries inside the Walmart store. And when you get home, you realize you forgot your prescription. But not to worry, it’s delivered to your house within 2 hours, thanks to your Walmart+ membership. Watching an episode of TV just became a part of your healthcare experience. Comcast This telco would benefit from leaning into its entertainment arm NBCUniversal to help make inroads in the competitive aging-in-place market. In partnership with Independence Blue Cross, Comcast is betting on Quil, an at-home monitoring platform that uses smart TVs and sensors, to level up its telco infrastructure into must-have home products. But by integrating their content pipeline with at-home care, Comcast will find more adults receptive to their health offerings when it’s as easy and convenient as watching The Office. Smart TVs, sensors and sticky content will be the key here for a fan-worthy experience. TikTok TikTok’s commerce potential has finally been recognized, but with the surprise news that parent company ByteDance has just acquired a hospital chain in China, a new evolution of consumer healthcare is upon us. While TikTok provides a plethora of entertaining health UGC, this social media darling could make healthcare as easy as swipe, click and go. ByteDance’s acquisition is likely a diversification strategy, but we cannot overlook the social commerce prowess of TikTok, especially as consumer healthcare evolves to require more socially driven interactions. Healthcare Needs Entertainment When looking at the future of consumer health, we must not overlook the power of entertainment to transform the current healthcare narrative of futility into a fan-worthy experience. By comparing today’s consumer health competitors with their entertainment offerings, we can see where the silos are ripe for disruption. Opportunities for fan-worthy healthcare are here. We just need to be bold enough to seize them.

  • Healthcare: From Complex to Compelling

    Both my parents are academics. Our family dinner conversations oscillated between discussing Kantian ethics and cell polarity. We didn’t talk about sports or celebrities, and when my friends came over to visit, I often had to remind my parents that most 8 year old’s didn’t know the difference between mitosis and meiosis. Very quickly, I took on the role of translator, helping explain to people — mostly my friends and their parents — what type of research my parents did without overwhelming them with words like “ontology” or “poly immunoglobulin receptor”. Mom studied why bad things happened to good people and Dad studied how the smallest parts of our bodies work. Simple, right? Wrong. As it turns out, sharing the facts with people didn’t make much of an impression. It was only when I started sharing stories about my parents and their life’s work did people understand. My parents were stars of academia, but the mainstream had no idea what they did or why it was important. So, I took my translating skills a step further, transforming the complexity of their academic research into compelling stories that would matter to everyone. It was a neat trick that managed to become the basis of my career, but I never thought of its significance until recently. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was meeting with an oncology start up. This company was doing some truly category disruptive work, but they continued to struggle with helping wider audiences understand what they were doing. Their work was scientifically intricate, difficult to understand without a PhD in immunobiology. Yet, in order to scale their work, they needed people — patients, providers, payers and policymakers — to understand the significance of what they were doing. How could they transform data into dialogue and evidence into engagement? Hint: it all starts with a story. Here are the three key ingredients I use to transform a complex health topic into a compelling, cohesive story. 1. Start With The Character Every great story starts with a character. When dealing with healthcare, there are multiple characters at play, often blurring the lines of who’s the protagonist of this story and who’s telling the story. Is it the patient who wants to be out of pain? The clinician who wants a better RPM solution? The payer trying to find a scalable SDoH program? Once we identify the character, we can start understanding their desires and how they seek to get what they want. Starting with the character allows us to humanize the topic, allowing us to picture ourselves in that situation, rather than trying to grasp something abstract. 2. Contextualize The Data Data drives healthcare, but it doesn’t make a very captivating story. Random values on a page means nothing to someone who didn’t go to med school. We need to know how the data relates to our experience and if it helps us get what we seek. A compelling story contextualizes data for a character’s main need. When crafting a story, I frequently ask, “does this data help the character get what they want?” 3. Language Matters Interestingly, a story can be told in a variety of ways, depending on who’s listening. The story you tell a patient is a lot different than the story you tell a payer. Recognizing your audience, or story-listeners as I call it, and adjusting the language so they can understand it and its relevance, creates a story that sticks. Often, health professionals are so immersed in the language of their field they forget the importance of communicating clearly, without didactic undertones. Always investigate the use of acronyms, shorthand, and industry specific jargon. If it’s not absolutely necessary, don’t use it. Ultimately, storytelling is a dynamic process, one that constantly evolves as the story is embraced and evangelized by audiences. When I used to explain my parents’ research to people, I always took a moment to ask people about their own interests and experiences, trying to find some common language. Healthcare is no different. It struggles under the weight of its own lexicon, unable to create a story people want to listen to. But when we take a moment to identify the main character, contextualize the data, and prioritize language, we’re able to create a story — a narrative — that everyone wants to be a part of. Ari Mostov is an award-winning entertainment producer turned healthcare narrative strategist. Her strategic narrative and engagement designs improve outcomes for health seekers all over the world. Learn more at

  • A Script Worth Buying

    You’d think the glamor of Hollywood would have nothing in common with the conference rooms of Fortune 500 companies or innovation labs of industry leaders. But oddly, producing entertainment is a lot like creating new products, offerings or initiatives for corporations. In TV and film, there is a script which is our source of truth. Written and rewritten by writers (and sometimes producers and directors), the script is shared with the heads of departments, such as cinematography, production design and visual effects, so everyone on the crew knows what we’re creating. Once questions are asked and answered, opinions shared and decisions made, the script transforms from an idea on a page to a living creation. With the script, we’re able to execute an ambitious vision. Everyone knows their role to play — both on and off screen– and is able to carry out their function, aligned with the source of truth. When George Lucas wrote Star Wars, his world of galactic cowboys and operatic lightsaber battles seemed impossible. But with his scripts, he was able to mobilize his crew to create the unimaginable. An impossible story became a global phenomenon. And it all started with words on a page… I often think about the importance of a script when working with a company. How can an organization, with multiple stakeholders, come together to create something new? How can everyone be engaged, aligned and then know how to mobilize to achieve their desired outcome? It all comes back to that source of truth — that story. But corporations don’t need catchy dialogue or jump cuts in a script to create something new. They just need the right narrative. The right narrative is not created by leadership in isolation. It’s co-created by the teams that are going to turn that story into reality. It’s a story that everyone can own and be a part of. A story that recognizes where they are coming from and where they are going. Many of my clients are navigating growing disruption and complexity. They seek a coherent and compelling method to navigate challenges — a method that can be embraced across their organization. When we come together to co-create a new narrative, we craft meaning and means into a format that everyone can engage with. From integrating newly acquired companies, to launching new products, the right narrative makes anything possible.

  • Health Entertainment is Here

    It’s incredible what we will do if we have the right story. Imagine playing a game where you are tasked with capturing unique monster creatures and battling them against your friends and family in AR? And what if that game not only provided you with hours of entertainment, but also improved your health? That’s what happened with Pokemon GO. The worldwide phenomenon had people of all backgrounds immersed in the story of Pokemon, physically searching their surroundings for new digital characters to call their own, while inadvertently increasing their physical activity. And while health media isn’t new, interactive technologies and Hollywood style storytelling has made it easier than ever for us to experience entertainment that we enjoy– with the added benefit of better health. Health entertainment is entertainment that measurably improves health outcomes. It’s great storytelling that captivates your attention, transporting you into the world of the story, while also having the benefits of better health. Thanks to interactive technologies such as AR/VR/XR, we can experience stories like never before. Now we can leverage our love of stories into something that improves our lives at the physiological level. You might be thinking, well that sounds a lot like an educational movie, like that video I watched on the Miracle of Life in health class. Yes, health media is not new but there are different degrees of health media and its efficacy on impacting our lives. Health entertainment is the highest level of health media: entertainment that changes behavior. Here are the 4 degrees of health entertainment Awareness: Entertainment that raises awareness about a health topic. Most educational programs can be found in this category (also known as edu-tainment). Entertainment that is designed to increase awareness is what we can commonly find in classrooms, serious games or content from health providers. Attitude: Entertainment that changes the way the audience feels about a health topic. We usually see this in character driven narratives, especially in TV and films set in the medical space. Shows like Grey’s Anatomy have been studied for their impact on influencing attitudes on health issues such as breast cancer screenings. Action: You are motivated to partake in some action related to the health topic, such as calling a hotline number after the screen fades to black. The entertainment — the story– is so compelling, you’re motivated to do something in response. We see this in social impact entertainment, where many entertainment projects have an accompanying social action campaign. When the screen fades to black or a button pops up, the audience is asked to get involved, donate or more. Most importantly, these are one-time actions. The action may catalyze a new passion for an audience member, but the entertainment isn’t designed to support the audience past the consumption of the media. Behavior Change: Entertainment that induces repeated action, compounding in measurable behavior change that can impact the physiology of the audience. The entertainment activates and improves the audience’s self efficacy. Pokemon GO is the best example of this, where an AR mobile game was found to increase physical activity for players across demographics. The most successful health entertainment projects aren’t even recognizable as a health intervention or health product. Instead, the health outcomes are a by-product or side-effect of the entertainment. Because the entertainment is so compelling, audiences aren’t even aware that they may be improving their health by playing a game or watching a TV show. Health Entertainment commonly targets exercise and physical activities, but thanks to interactive technologies we’re seeing the therapeutic benefits of health entertainment for chronic conditions. Akili Interactive has the first FDA approved video game for ADHD treatment, while Lumiopia has been approved to treat amblyopia. More use cases are being studied everyday, but I see the real potential for health entertainment is not another gamified digital therapeutic, but an easily accessible, well-loved entertainment experience, like Sesame Street or Star Trek; a fan worthy experience that uses interactive technology to captivate audiences and improve their health. Moving beyond raising awareness or changing attitudes, our favorite stories and characters will be the catalyst for sustained behavior change. With health entertainment, we can finally leverage our love of stories to improve our health and scale healing. Health entertainment is here and it’s only going to get better. How are you going to use entertainment to improve health outcomes? Ari Mostov is health entertainment producer and health innovation strategist. She uses her entertainment expertise to improve health outcomes and works with health companies to create a new narrative for health. Learn more

  • What if Netflix did Healthcare?

    Everyone talks about Netflix’s on demand model, in fact many aspire to replicate it in their own field. There has been a fascinating trend of healthcare companies aiming to become “The Netflix of healthcare”. From CVS’ consumer health ambitions to improving patient experiencesand pharma’s hopeful step into content driven care, healthcare has been pontificating on the potential of Netflix for several years now. And I think that’s a good thing. Yet, I don’t think we’re going about this the right way. Instead, as Netflix tightens its belt and starts trying to woo back its subscribers and shareholders, it’s time for something radically different. It’s time for Netflix to become a healthcare company. But what would this look like? Well for starters, Netflix has already dipped its toes into healthcare through health content. Everything from documentaries to TV shows, yet with a strong “wellness” framing. When Netflix partnered with Headspace to deliver guided meditations, Netflix started to take on a bolder healthcare position. With Headspace’s “Guide to Meditation” and “Unwind Your Mind,” Netflix has brought a new element to mainstream: therapeutic television. And it’s not some hyped marketing ploy either, according to Headspace’s CCO Morgan Selzer, the Headspace team was inspired by a study that documented veterans being able to fall asleep to episodes of The Office. Plus factor in that Headspace merged with telehealth provider Ginger to create Headspace Health in Fall 2021, Netflix is becoming more of a digital front door for healthcare, rather than just a place to binge content. Imagine you watch an episode of “Unwind Your Mind”. As soon as the episode is over, you realize you’re still struggling with your anxiety. You click on your screen to schedule an appointment with Headspace Health, where you’re redirected from Netflix to the telehealth appointment page. Talk about healthcare on demand! Managing mental health is a necessity in today’s volatile world, and if entertainment can scale emotional regulation and overall healing, then we’re talking about major implications for population wide health. Netflix is in nearly every country in the world. Imagine a global community that watches a therapeutic show localized to their culture that is also able to help them navigate mental struggles. Global health? Check! But beyond mental wellness, Netflix has the potential for real physiological impact through entertainment. In September 2021, neuroscience researchers from New York, Paris and the UK demonstrated that stories can synchronize heart rates between individuals. This is the latest development in the neuroscience of storytelling, but it paints a bold picture of what we already experience when we go to movie theaters or get together to watch a season finale: we are storytelling creatures and our physiology responds to stories. Netflix could tailor stories to influence heart rate, blood pressure, and even respiratory rate. If you’ve ever been scared out of your mind by a horror film or found your mood shifted from watching a comedy, you know that stories are potent sources of influence and potential healing. So how long till we can be prescribed a Netflix series that lowers our blood pressure through innovative storytelling? Or as Netflix expands its gaming ambitions, what’s stopping Netflix from creating games that improve treatment adherence? Perhaps, most importantly, with Netflix’s global presence, how long till they become a provider of entertainment and healing?

  • What’s your digital health story?

    We’ve gotten to the point where “digital health” has lost its meaning. The ubiquity of “digital health” has spawned massive headaches for everyone in healthcare, causing confusion at every decision making point. While every healthcare company today has some idea of what “digital health” means to them – in theory– the reality proves otherwise. We all have our own idea of what “digital health” means or looks like in practice, but in order to turn that vision into a reality, healthcare organizations need complete alignment, buy in and direction. In other words, they need a story. While many in healthcare organizations understand the imperative of digital health transformation, that understanding is stuck in the intangible, internal mind space of “common sense” and “we all know what we’re talking about, right?”. The assumptions of digital health and the capabilities we want to see remain locked behind the closed doors of our minds, rather than being expressed with the motivational, action orientated pull of a story that can be embodied. For many in healthcare, digital health is a job for technologists and they should be able to figure it out on their own. Unfortunately, that’s how we get faulty digital health products with lots of hype but no impact on health outcomes. Healthcare organizations, from frontline workers to C suite, need a digital health story that they can be a part of. One that centers those they serve, while painting a picture of the future of healthcare. Here are three ways to start building your digital health story: 1. Character A great story is character-driven. It follows the adventure of a protagonist as they navigate life and its obstacles. In healthcare, there are many characters, and understanding who they are and what they want is half the battle. Still, I always encourage healthcare organizations to focus on one main character. Usually, that character is the patient. But it can also be a clinician, an administrator, a caretaker, a policymaker or a payor. Identifying who the main character is of your digital health story is essential to crafting a narrative that is compelling and executable. 2. Needs Every character has a need or a want. Perhaps it’s explicit like “I want to spend less time with poor workflows and more time talking to my patients” or more ambiguous, “I want to feel better”. These needs are often muddled by vague corporate speak that makes it difficult to identify the tangible challenges. Identify the specific needs of your character. Do they want a better EHR system that captures SDoH data? Maybe they need a glucose monitor that connects to their caregiver’s device? Terms like “interoperability” or “accessibility” lose their potency if we don’t ground them in the reality of the character and their needs. Give us those juicy details. General vagueness makes for poor storytelling. 3. The Promise Land Now there’s no fun or point in a digital health transformation if it’s not going to create a better possible outcome or future. For many, digital health is believed to be the holy grail solution to today’s healthcare problems. Yet we still need to know what this better future looks like. The “promise land” of digital health varies from character to character, and it’s on the healthcare organization to craft a story that fills in the blanks of what a better future looks like – as long as it meets the needs of your character. If you’re a healthcare organization that serves clinicians, perhaps the promise land looks like easy workflows or EHRs that include SDoH data. If you serve payors, maybe the promise land looks like cost effective care that scales. Or if you serve patients, the promise land most definitely should include “a better, easier experience”. Again, specific details matter here, so don’t be stingy. And while the promise land may not exist right now, knowing where you're heading with your digital health story makes it easier to get there. Ultimately, the hype of digital health will not yield anything sustainable unless we have a story that goes along with it. Healthcare organizations who create a digital health story that they can share throughout their organization and with their customers will be able to transform the aspirational into the tangible, and see an ROI that outlasts hype and trends. Ari Mostov is an award winning producer turned health narrative strategist. She works with health organizations to create a new narrative for health; creating products, policy and experiences that scale healing. Learn more:

  • The 3 Must Haves for Your Metaverse Health Strategy

    As Metaverse hype transforms into corporate strategy, we’re finally seeing legacy health companies come out to play in the digital sandbox. From CVS filing trademarks for its pharmacy and clinical health services in the Metaverse to Teladoc’s Alexa partnership (which some may argue isn’t a Metaverse play, but anything that blurs the lines of digital and physical is worth considering), the great healthcare disruption is making its debut in the Metaverse and it’s time to pay attention. Here are the 3 must haves for your Metaverse Health Strategy As an industry, healthcare is notoriously slow to technological evolutions, but with COVID19 accelerating digital health adoption, we’re at a pivotal moment for healthcare to claim its stake in the Metaverse and ensure that healthcare is secure, accessible and effective in the next tech evolution. Blockchain Healthcare on the blockchain is still a new concept for many, but it has proven its effectiveness in Estonia, where each citizen’s health data is securely encrypted on the blockchain, and each citizen is the owner of their health data, able to grant access to it to authorized parties (such as a new clinician). Blockchain technology provides the security and interoperability current EHR standards lack, while also ensuring data sovereignty to individuals. Blockchain technologies are the basis for the Metaverse economy and identity, allowing individuals to navigate the new digital world with security and confidence. For any healthcare company looking to engage in the Metaverse, their technologies must be blockchain enabled. Such companies leading the way include Solve.Care which powers digital health networks on the blockchain and Estonia’s KSI Blockchain created by Guardtime Content Now health content has had a moment during the pandemic, with the likes of YouTube, Netflix and TikTok leading the way in health media and communications. While many digital health companies have started building out their content libraries, from how-to videos to lifestyle lessons, content in the Metaverse is necessary to create successful digital experiences. The Metaverse is, in many ways, the internet built by gamers, who are themselves content consumers and creators. With healthcare, content in the Metaverse needs to be accessible and actionable, leaning heavily into entertainment to create a healthcare experience that is unrecognizable as “healthcare”. From games that increase physical activity to immersive stories for anxiety, the Metaverse is full of opportunities for better health engagement through immersive content. Social Lastly, your Metaverse health strategy will only succeed if you build it to be social. The Metaverse is the next iteration of social connectivity, and if individuals feel isolated while receiving virtual care, they are less likely to continue the experience. Looking back at the evolution of the internet, from message boards to email to social media, we need experiences that foster socialization and community and we rely on technologies to make that possible. In the Metaverse, health experiences must be social — from group therapy sessions to sharing chronic condition care tips — the Metaverse is a social gathering place and health is no exception. Healthcare organizations with established online communities or social practices will have an easier time finding their Metaverse footing, such The Mighty or My Health Teams Ultimately, the Metaverse is still emerging, but as industries like retail, gaming and banking start dominating this brave new world, it’s necessary that healthcare takes a stand so that the Metaverse can reach its full potential. As you start to decipher fact from fiction, take a moment to see how your healthcare company can contribute to the Metaverse and be a part of the next great healthcare evolution.

  • The Future of Entertainment? Healthcare

    I was delighted to see that this year’s Super Bowl advertisements included health related ads. While the Rams rushed to victory, Americans got to experience a new type of entertainment experience, one that gives us a glimpse of the future. Let’s start with Headspace Health’s John Legend Super Bowl ad. John Legend, American icon and EGOT winner has been with Headspace as their Chief Music Officer since 2020, providing curated music for mental wellness content. Headspace recently merged with Telehealth provider Ginger to take their consumer offering to the next level of care — providing therapy and psychiatry. Using Headspace’s consumer friendly presence, Headspace Health has built a digital front door for mental healthcare that will leverage the best of entertainment to make mental healthcare as easy and convenient as watching Netflix. In fact, Headspace’s Netflix shows and collaborations with the likes of Sesame Street are taking the stigma out of mental health; increasing awareness and access. Not to be outshined by their rival, mental wellness app Calm recently announced their acquisition of care platform Ripple, launching their new healthcare solution Calm Health. Much like Headspace, Calm has built a library of entertainment driven experiences to deliver relaxation to the masses; from celebrity sleep stories to a TV show on HBO Max. Having built traction as an entertainment company, Calm is using their advantage to build out their own healthcare solutions. Don’t be surprised when Calm Health is treating you for depression with both their sleep stories and talk therapists. What’s so unique about Headspace Health and Calm Health is they are making healthcare as easy as pressing play. While legacy health companies boast about being the next Netflix of healthcare , it’s the consumer first, entertainment companies that will really deliver health entertainment. Now back to sports – While mental wellness is front and center of everyone’s mind, it was Cue Health’s at home COVID19 testing commercial narrated by actress Gal Gadot that really met audiences where they are. Featuring a mom and her child, the at-home MedTech device makes COVID19 testing as easy as turning on the TV. Breaking the boundaries of home and healthcare, companies who lean on entertainment — be it spokespeople, influencers, or even entertainment products — will be able to create a new healthcare narrative that people will actually want to be a part of. If Wonder Woman can tell me if I have COVID19 or not, then what’s stopping Hollywood from guiding me through the rest of my health journey? And while navigating healthcare is hard, it’s nice to see traditional health legacy companies break out of their B2B marketing to speak directly to the people they serve. Seeing singer Mary J Blige in Hologic’s first ever commercial finally gave audiences a chance to understand the role of MedTech in an individual’s life. Healthcare is a complex environment. Using a celebrity like Blige and placing MedTech in the context of her life empowers audiences with better understanding and confidence as they navigate healthcare. Ultimately, these ads are just a preview of what’s to come for health entertainment. As healthcare continues to be disrupted, entertainment will be the differentiating factor for winning health offerings. Using the best of Hollywood to our advantage, the broken American healthcare system might just have a chance of success.

  • Our Health Egos

    It’s funny where our egos show up. For some, it’s their sense of pride when they accomplish a difficult task. Others, it’s how they express themselves through creation. For me, my ego tells me I can do something physically, when in reality my body can’t keep up. Ego — that psychological phenomenon popularized by Freud and since adopted into the mainstream vernacular — can be best described as “how you see yourself”. I find that ego plays a surprisingly large role in our health journeys, especially as we start to navigate disease or injury. But I’ve yet to see any health experience address ego, especially when it comes to a treatment plan. I’ve been getting a rude awakening to my ego recently as I’ve struggled to overcome an injury. For me, I’ve always seen myself as athletic, strong and able to push through pain. My sense of self is somewhere between “invincible” and “tough”, yet the reality is quite different. The things I thought I could do with ease are now hard and risky. My frustration has grown, now realizing that my ego is causing me more harm than good. Who am I if not the “tough one”? While this is a good question that any self-help guru could guide me through, I see this as an opportunity to craft a new story — a new ego. If egos are a sense of self, then that means they are the stories we tell ourselves about our identity — who we are, what we can and cannot do. And as a story, we have the ability to rewrite it. We still need to acknowledge the egos we are working with. How we see ourselves and our health is something that needs to be explored with more care and consideration. If a patient has always seen themselves as a caretaker, and now they need help with daily tasks, how can healthcare help reconcile their sense of self with their new reality? When we ignore the story the patient is in, we lose their attention. We need to recognize the ego as a starting point, not an obstacle. I had a physical therapist who completely ignored my sense of self. My ego made it clear: “I’m an athlete”, yet the physical therapist wouldn’t acknowledge my story. Needless to say, I didn’t follow her guidance and spent a good long time avoiding physical therapists altogether. Only recently have I found a physical therapist who understands my ego. My story as the “tough athlete” hasn’t been a detriment to my treatment plan. Rather my story has expanded. I’m not just the “tough athlete” who pushes through pain, I’m the tough athlete who cares enough about my body to do the rehab and extra work necessary to succeed. Egos are still fuzzy, less than tangible concepts, but if we start exploring egos as the stories we tell ourselves about our identity, perhaps we can see the patient’s ego as an asset in healthcare rather than a burden. As a species that thrives on storytelling, what do we have to lose?

  • Disney Wins the Metaverse

    Disney has already won the metaverse. While VCs make their bets on metaverse maybes and headlines continue to argue over hyperbolic claims, Disney patented a technology that facilitates a hands free, augmented reality experience for theme park visitors. Leaning into their imagineering magic, Disney’s take on the metaverse will likely prove victorious, and will perhaps even pave the way for consumer acceptance and mass adoption. As Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek put it, “We’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling, without boundaries in our own Disney Metaverse” With their storytelling capacity, creative technology and supreme fan cultivation, Disney’s flywheel will naturally progress from multi-channel storytelling experience to immersive storytelling phenomenon — powered by fearless fans and beloved IP. “Audiences have an unending desire for ‘more’ of the stories they already love,” metaverse maven Matthew Ball writes. Disney’s fans will always want more opportunities to be a part of their favorite stories. By initiating their virtual experience through the theme park, fans will see the metaverse as a continuation of their favorite IP and opportunity to create. Rather than being forced fed the metaverse from tech oligarchs, Disney’s metaverse uses its storytelling and audience love to make the metaverse a natural next step in consumer driven experiences. Would most parents let their 6 years old spend the day with Moana in the Disney-created, parent-approved, metaverse? Or what about a mother and daughter practicing their lightsaber skills at home, while dueling Rey and Obi-wan avatars? How about continuing your Jungle Cruise adventure in the car ride home from Disneyland with your personal XR enabled toy? Disney’s storytelling flywheel will outlast any technological innovation or consumer adoption headache. As long as Disney keeps cultivating imagination and love, there’s nothing they can’t do.

  • One Day Your Pain Will Be Useful To You

    Every so often I receive a message from a stranger asking if we can connect. They’re not looking to sell me their services or add me to their email list. They want to know if my life is livable — or more importantly, “how did I get to where I am?” As a rape survivor-activist, my pain has been made public for spectacle, political warfare and cultural discourse. With it comes a certain layer of permeance, where people feel comfortable reaching out to me for comments or advice. My pain is a calling card for those who are desperate to navigate a life post violence and I try to respond to each appropriate request with care. Often, the strangers who reach out to me are the family of survivors. Their loved ones — who were once brimming with hope and possibility — struggle to live in a world that has already violated them. These strangers ask me: “Are you happy?” “How long did it take to heal?” “What do I do to support my loved one?” I don’t have straightforward answers. But I often share my story of healing, trying to show the nuances of life after rape and how I reclaimed my story and pain to build a life that I can call my own. 2022 will be the 10 year mark of when I was raped by my classmate. I spent the last 10 years trying to piece my life back together and make sense out of the meaningless of violence. Along the way, I have found love, community and purpose, but the healing isn’t over and I don’t think it ever will be. All I do know for sure, is that we don’t spend enough time sharing the stories of our healing. The journey after the trauma. The continued ugliness we must face after being dehumanized to the point of certain death. I have been more fortunate than most, having had access to quality healthcare and healing resources, a support network that provided me with a safe landing while I tried, over and over again, to make a life for myself. For the last 5 years, I have made a conscious effort to untangle myself from my work in survivorship, but the more I tried to separate myself from my past, the more I lost my connection to the world. Denying my pain was also denying my humanity. Often I tell strangers that there is hope. The world is changing. Not fast enough, but in the last 10 years, I have seen the rise of survivor activism, the #MeToo movement, policy changes that support survivors and a culture of accountability and respect starting to emerge in more and more places. And even more so, I took what nearly destroyed me –interpersonal and institutional violence — and used it as the pillars for my personal and professional life. Some of these pillars I hope to explore further in later writing, but for now here are the core tenets of my journey thus far. Healthy Relationships After I was raped by my classmate, I thought I would never trust another human being. But through the hard work of EMDR therapy and the kindness of a close few, I was able to trust people and even myself. My greatest source of joy is the healthy relationships in my life that I have now and I know what’s possible when we continuously strive for healthy, authentic relationships with one another. There’s nothing quite as powerful as a healthy relationship and I am encouraged by the great shift in our culture to focusing on cultivating healthy relationships — both personally and professionally. Bodily Integrity After I was raped, my body did not belong to me. Instead, my body was a prisoner of the violence. Often disassociated, I had limited ability to comprehend what was needed of me and my body. It was only when I found the right language and trauma informed care did I reconnect with my physical form. Navigating healthcare post rape gave me the insight into the importance of bodily integrity– the right to self determination and autonomy over our own bodies. Bodily integrity is my North Star, guiding my work in healthcare and entertainment as I seek for everyone to be empowered when it comes to their own minds and bodies. Storytelling The survivor rights movement is a lesson in storytelling. Who’s telling the story? The victim or the victor? Often victims of sexual violence are nameless statistics, but that story changed the moment we came forward, using our voices to recenter the narrative on what happened to us. Storytelling was the vehicle we used to push for behavior, cultural and policy change. It continues to be the method I use for my work as I scale healing through entertainment. Ultimately, when strangers connect with me and ask me about my life post rape, I don’t linger on the details of the violence or what it’s like being a part of the media circus. Rather I always come back to the journey of healing. Each journey is unique. It will not be linear or easy, but it is possible. I’ve often wished there was a way we could inoculate ourselves against violence, but the truth is we can’t. We can however strengthen our healing abilities, supporting ourselves and loved ones as we wade through the pain and suffering. As this year begins, I re-dedicate myself to my own healing journey, knowing I cannot help others unless I remain committed to my own healing as well.

  • The Three Ways We Experience Healthcare

    Navigating healthcare is not for the faint of heart: it can range from tedious to downright devastating, yet we’re witnessing an unprecedented evolution of consumer healthcare. As we gain more power in our decision making, the healthcare experience becomes less treacherous.But we still have a long way to go. Before we can transform healthcare into something that we all look forward to, we must identify the ways we currently experience healthcare Here are three ways we, as healthcare users, experience healthcare: PATIENT We’ve all been healthcare patients. Be it sitting on an exam table while a white coat pokes and prods us, or trying to decipher the meaning of numbers on a monitor, or failing to understand the medical jargon of a treatment plan -- being a patient is a universal experience for all of us at some point. Overwhelmed, objectified and powerless, we experience healthcare much like we would experience a foreign country -- we struggle to navigate a new language and culture, without the benefit of a translator or guidebook. Patients experience healthcare through data. Words are exchanged, numbers are shared but it doesn't feel relevant to our lives. It doesn’t make sense. The data is presented to us but it lacks context and applicability -- what does it mean for me? It’s as though a doctor gives you a piece of paper with instructions in a foreign language and expects us to make meaningful choices with limited to no understanding. Data is essential to healthcare. It’s the raw material that health providers need to make decisions, but it means nothing for patients who haven’t spent years studying and training to understand what those values mean. For patients, healthcare is a data driven experience with no context or comprehension. It’s a strange country with no map, translator or guide. CONSUMER Unlike being dropped in a foreign country with no guidance, health consumers are a lot like tourists -- we’ve got some idea of what we want, need and where we’re going. In today’s consumer driven healthcare experience, consumers have better decision making power thanks to health information and content that makes the foreign world of health more accessible. Consumers experience healthcare through information and content. Like a tourist in a foreign country, healthcare consumers use information and content to navigate their surroundings. What was once incomprehensible data has now been given some context and direction. Those instructions in a foreign language now come with a phrase book and recommendations from other experienced travelers. Yet consumers still experience health as a transactional experience. It’s not as alienating as the patient’s data driven experience but it lacks the more engaging qualities of a relational driven experience -- something that we can see with healthcare fans. FAN Being a healthcare fan is a lot like being a local. You are immersed in the community, your experience driven by knowledge and relationships with others. For healthcare fans, health is a part of their identity. Fans experience healthcare through stories. These are stories from the people who experience health/care daily, sharing their perspective as they navigate better health and the healthcare system. Fans engage in and create their own stories of healthcare. Those instructions in a foreign language are now a personal story that we can remember, relate to and act upon. Rather than being alienated by data or limited to content, stories translated into personal experiences that can become our own. Fans, like locals, are able to translate a foreign language into a repeatable, engaging experience. Health User Experience by Ari Mostov 2021 As more patients become healthcare consumers, we have a unique opportunity to design healthcare experiences that are fan worthy, providing a space for stories to be shared and communities to grow. Fan driven healthcare experiences will inevitably improve health engagement and outcomes, turning the foreign experience of health into something we can all identify with. Rather than being lost in a sea of data or limited by disengaging content, health fans will participate in their health through stories that drive relationships and outcomes.

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