“People who are isolated and lonely and don’t have close friends or family tend to have much less resilience and much poorer outcomes.” John Mattison, MD


I had a chance to spend a few minutes with John Mattison, the Chief Medical Innovation Officer of Kaiser Permanente Southern California after he finished his panel discussion about Love, Compassion and Health at the Health Technology Forum in San Francisco. It was a terrific panel with Dean Ornish MD talking about his research on the topic, Danny Sands, MD talking about technology that supports connectedness, and John talking about his work at Kaiser Permanente.

[Here’s a link to the video.]

John says that people who are isolated and lonely and don’t have close friends or family tend to have much less resilience and much poorer outcomes. And, that there is a significant body of scientific evidence that how well people are connected with friends and family and have a caring community has a profound influence on their wellness and health. He thinks we have a greater need for a better social support system and structure for the personal care team of every individual than we do for more higher tech procedures to deal with a significant illness that, perhaps, could have been avoided in the first place.

Using Social Mobile Technologies to Restore Communities

He is very interested in using the new social-mobile technologies to help connect people in more meaningful ways, for example, Patients Like Me and Nextdoor.  This is because, as he says, these technologies can reconnect us and restore communities like we used to have when our genes evolved around tribes. He thinks we have essentially abandoned the genetic needs we have for connectedness and having an environment where we care about each other.

In recent decades, the healthcare system has focused on its own needs for convenience and efficiency by taking people out of their lives and putting them into structured healthcare environments that do not duplicate what is going on in their everyday lives. It is so refreshing to see an acknowledgment of the importance of putting people back where they belong – in their homes, families, and communities Listen as John explains how he sees this fitting into the way healthcare is delivered – a fascinating discussion.

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