Health is more than just what happens in your doctor's office or what medicines you are taking. Many issue areas that we don’t often connect with health, such as transportation, food, and housing, do in fact have powerful effects on our health and the health of our communities. These are the social determinants of health (SDOH) and all too often, they are left out of discussions surrounding health care.Health is more than just what happens in your doctor's office or what medicines you are taking. Many issue areas that we don’t often connect with health, such as transportation, food, and housing, do in fact have powerful effects on our health and the health of our communities. These are the social determinants of health (SDOH) and all too often, they are left out of discussions surrounding health care.
This is why we have partnered with the de Beaumont Foundation, the Prevention Institute, and Brightline Interactive, as part of our Power of Prevention campaign, to develop a first of its kind virtual reality learning experience for health care decision makers in government, state and local health departments, and industry.
We debuted the tool at a Congressional reception Tuesday evening, and are excited to start sharing it with policymakers to promote Health in All Policies.
Context is critical to having an informative discussion on policy issues like SDOH. Without shared experience and context, it’s easy to fall in the trap of talking past each other, and fail to have a productive conversation. Virtual reality gives users the power to standardize context in a shared virtual space. The technology has the ability to deliver messaging and true, lived experiences faster and at scale, giving people the ability to truly connect and relate to the subject matter at hand. No other technology can instantly transport you between two different locations, nor capture the crucial spatial references that stick so strongly in human memory.
What the Experience Captures
This immersive experience places the user in a situation in which social determinants of health promote wellbeing, and then transports them to one where social conditions may be detrimental to health, highlighting specific, actionable policy decisions that, if made, would lead to different health outcomes for the communities portrayed.
In one situation, is the user experiences a community with sidewalks and complete streets, a grocery store nearby, and a subway station right around the corner. In another, the street has heavy traffic and no sidewalks or crosswalks, and lacks any healthy food options or public transportation.
Where We Are Going
This keystone project is the first of its kind and will mark a new, innovative and effective way of communicating important issues related to health and policy change.
By highlighting how policy beyond what we traditionally consider health care impacts health, and providing an immersive environment to see just how strong that impact is, we hope the key decision makers in health care will embrace a "Health in All Policies" model, so we can begin to move upstream to prevent chronic conditions, save lives, create healthier communities, and transform our healthcare system.