I remember my photography instructor in the Applied Communication Program stating with authority, “Garbage in, garbage out!”
A poorly composed photo will never be anything more than a poorly composed photo. My cohort in the early 2000’s was on the cusp of the change from film to digital processing. There was a perception that the new digital processing would save even the worst photo but it didn’t. His point was clear: get the photo right before snapping the shutter.
His statement from the front of the class still rings in my memory and I apply it to many aspects of my work and daily life. The quality of the output is the result of the quality of the input.
Let’s look at healthcare through this lens.
Facing the challenge
Our discussion in the podcast covers several aspects of health and well-being, but there is one aspect of the conversation that I want to shine a little more light on here. With the cost of our healthcare system over $20 billion and more than 40% of the whole provincial budget, simply throwing more money at the system is neither sustainable nor is it responsible.
For more than a decade, my physical, mental and spiritual health were poor. I drank copious amounts of sugary drinks, regularly ate fast food and did very little physical activity. I was 50lbs. overweight and while I was able to function in public events, when they were over, I retreated into darkness. Overall, I was very unhappy.
Things began to change when I was creating a Mii on my nephews Wii Fit. After I plugged in all my vital statistics, the program let me know that I was morbidly obese. A chronic procrastinator, I knew I could no longer ignore the signs and that the next visit to the doctor was going to be a conversation about diabetes.
At the core of my dramatic situation were unbelievably poor eating habits. Sugar binges and late-night snacking were just two of the many ways I was slowly destroying myself. Garbage in.
The result was a deep sadness. In addition to my physical health, my mental and spiritual health were also struggling. I was barely able to get through tasks, my work lacked quality and I made poor decisions. Garbage out.
Nutrition, recreation and wellness
This post is a lot about me, but it is also a lot about each one of us. Our healthcare system serves about 5 million individuals who make hundreds of choices every day. When I decided to make different decisions about what I was going to put into my body, my body quickly responded positively.
Once I took control of my nutrition and my daily diet, all other aspects of my life began to improve. Sugary drinks, gone. Fast food, gone. Bread, late night snacks and processed foods, gone.
The provincial government simply cannot afford to continue the culture of spending our way out of the problem. Our health institutions are more expensive than ever, the front line workers are more exhausted and our outcomes are not improving. The current situation is not effective and incredibly wasteful.
Just like my old photography instructor clearly outlined, the opportunity to improve the result is right before before snapping the picture. Focus on the quality of the input. As it is currently designed, our healthcare system helps people manage the outcome of a society powered by highly processed, low quality food and nutrition. We are in desperate need of transforming our system from a focus of managing sickness to living in wellness.