TED Conversations

Carol Harnett

Chairperson, Health & Performance Innovation Institute


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In our move toward the "quantified self" when we regard our health and the health of others, are we ignoring the importance of rituals?

I am a writer, speaker and consultant on health, especially in the employed population. Employer-based health care initiatives are almost blinded by metrics. As a strong advocate for well-designed research, I understand this drive. But I am getting worried that we are missing something.
- How should the rituals of human touch, observation and conversation fit into our assessment and understanding of health?
- What are we missing by focusing almost exclusively on data and metrics?


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    Sep 27 2011: Hi Ed, I am not familiar with "tapping." I will have to do some research on that term. In the U.S., the cost of health care has people buried in the data in pursuit of an answer to rising costs. I believe it's difficult for most to get beyond looking for hard numbers right now. I agree that health is often a balance of many elements, including emotions and spirit.
    Hi Deborah, I appreciate your comments. It is important to hear from the direct caregivers. I used to do clinical work and know of what you speak. Defensive medicine is a problem in and outside the U.S. I once saw some research indicating that if a physician or health care practitioner made an error that simply admitting it, explaining what happened and saying, "I'm sorry," significantly decreased patient lawsuits. Unfortunately, legal advisors recommend strongly against this approach.
    I believe that some corporate leaders are trying to see a bigger picture than metrics by looking at other issues such as employee and patient global well-being, but they are currently in the minority. Maybe discussions like this one will help.

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