Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Promoting Community Wellbeing by Fostering Mind-Body-Spirit Development

I just submitted an idea to the Changemakers, an organization that describes itself as "...a community of action where we all collaborate on solutions." They are looking for ideas about how to improve mental health and community wellbeing with the world. The title of my idea is "Promoting Community Wellbeing by Fostering Mind-Body-Spirit Development." Following are several sections of my submission; the bold headings are the questions they wanted answered. For the complete submission, please visit this link.

What is your idea?

To provide tools that help transform people's lives, in ways that promote community wellbeing, by enabling and motivating individuals to develop their minds (including their beliefs, behaviors and emotions), bodies, and spirit by following life paths guided by profound insight, rational thought, empathy and compassion.

Innovation: What makes your idea unique?

The information it collects includes details about people's core thoughts, feelings, behaviors and health status, as well as the influences of their psychosocial (including economic, political, cultural and religious) and physical environments. In addition to helping improve people's physical and mental health, knowledge gained from this information would likely have a global societal benefit by revealing how much alike people are—regardless of the societies in which they live—by (a) showing how we share many similar core beliefs, perceptions, values, desires and emotions, and (b) clarifying the influence of psychosocial and natural environments. This knowledge could lead to profound understanding of what it means to be human, as well as dramatically increase the empathy we have toward each other by enabling each of us to "put ourselves in others' shoes." And empathy can breed compassion, which are essential for the wellbeing communities and express humankind's spiritual potential.


Six key problems addressed are:

  • The healthcare industry's failure to adequately address the mind-body connection when providing care (link)
  • The difficulty consumers have making informed decisions, solving personal problems, and taking better care of themselves (link)
  • The need for better evidence-based research, as well as more focus on guideline development, dissemination, and use
  • The need for better protection of populations via biosurveillance
  • Our culture's drift away from empathy and compassion toward a less spiritual set of values (link)
  • The healthcare system's failure to focus on delivering high value (top quality at low cost) to the consumer (link).

What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

The idea for the innovation began in the early 1980's as I (Dr. Stephen Beller) began my clinical psychology practice, and has been evolving ever since. At that time I started wondering how to obtain, manage and use comprehensive details about my patients' psychological conditions to help me deliver the best possible care by enabling profound understanding of my patients' problems, determine the best courses of action (treatment planning), evaluate outcomes (the results/consequences of such actions), and continually learn from experience. Since the personal computer (PC) had just entered the market, I figured that using a PC for this purpose was a reasonable thing to do, so I purchased one and began working with spreadsheets.

By the mid 1980's, my efforts led to the creation of a software program that I used in my practice to collect, analyze, and report data information about people's stressful/troublesome life situations, emotional disturbances, maladaptive ways of thinking and acting, psychosocial experiences, and traumatic events. I soon realized that I not only wanted to learn about my patients/clients' mental health problems, but I also wanted a way to know about any related physiological/biomedical factors that were affecting them. My colleagues and I then set out to create the first information technology providing a comprehensive, in-depth, "biopsychosocial" view of patients' conditions and treatments.

This led to a 15-year journey of intensive, cross-disciplinary research and heath IT innovation. During that time, I:

  • Created a universal lifetime computerized patient record system and a suite of decision-support tools for healthcare professionals and consumers
  • Published a blueprint for a national health information network
  • Used the knowledge gained over the years to obtain a patent for a novel process for exchanging and presenting information
  • Presented my ideas and creations to others while establishing international relationships.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

As the innovator behind this ides, my life goal is to work with others to help re-direct the course of humankind, so we don't have to be ashamed of the world we're leaving our children. Toward that end, I've spent the past three decades in creative pursuits, including inventing unique software systems, writing about the healthcare crisis and cures, and developing close personal and professional bonds with fine individuals across the globe.

I'm currently involved in a wide range of activities devoted to:

  • Healthcare reform
  • Consumer empowerment
  • Continuous improvement of care quality and efficiency using evolving evidence-based guidelines
  • Improving the health and wellbeing of the elderly and impoverished, promoting community wellness, and providing diabetes education
  • Development of novel cost-effective software tools and cyber-infrastructure for the secure exchange, analysis and presentation of meaningful information to healthcare professionals and patients
  • Protecting populations and supporting first responders and trauma department staff in disaster situations.

Being an outspoken critic of our current healthcare system for the past fifteen years, offering disruptive health IT innovations whose full appreciation requires a paradigm shift in thinking, and focusing on bringing high value to the consumer—all these things have made my journey very difficult and frustrating, as well as spiritually fulfilling. Nevertheless, thanks to the Internet, I've been able to develop many wonderful relationships with people in our country and abroad. And thanks to the "flattening of the world" and growing awareness that we must change the way business is done and people are treated, I am for the first time optimistic that social innovation can have a positive and sustainable impact on our species.

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