The Power of Storytelling – in Healthcare

Perhaps you’ve heard about the power of storytelling. If you want people to listen, remember, and react, you shouldn’t lecture them or drown them in PowerPoint slides. You should tell them a story. 

There’s real science behind this guidance. According to neuroeconomist Paul Zak, when we hear a story, our brains release chemicals like cortisol, dopamine, and oxytocin. Cortisol helps us form memories. Dopamine keeps us engaged by helping regulate our emotional responses. And oxytocin, which is associated with empathy, assists us in building, maintaining, and deepening connections. 

Renowned cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner suggests we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it’s been wrapped in a story. Stories are memorable. They trigger our emotions. They help people understand – and act faster – especially when there’s data involved. 

Given the power of storytelling, it’s critically important in healthcare. To get the best care, patients (and their care partners) must relay the full story to healthcare providers in the language they’ll understand. That’s where Primary Record comes in.

Primary Record helps family members tell stories

Coordinating care on your own behalf is difficult. It gets even more challenging when you’re coordinating care on someone else’s behalf – whether it’s your child, an aging parent, or a non-traditional “family” member. 

What families often find out when they begin caring for someone else is doctors and nurses don’t have the time to dig through the patient’s full health history, information systems like EHRs aren’t always connected, and it’s on them to be able to relay this information effectively. This challenge is further compounded with complex medical conditions and diversified care settings. Godspeed those without a medical background. 

The Primary Record mobile app enables families to collect medical information in one secure place, makes that information easily accessible, and empowers them to share medical data with providers and other care partners. In other words, Primary Record helps people bring full health stories to life.

Pulling data from disparate systems with 1up Patient Connect

Gone are the days (and days of work) of tracking down patient portal data and calling around to various doctors’ offices and insurance companies. Powered by 1up Patient Connect, Primary Record enables families to extract data with various patient portals – through the push of a button – and put it all in one place.

And when families have the whole story in one place, then everywhere they go, point to point, they can more easily share out and relay the patient’s story to care teams, so that care is consistent and everyone stays on the same page. And, as it turns out, these stories can be very powerful.

Bringing the patient story to life

One Primary Record customer is a mom with a three-year-old who has a complex medical condition. Before creating a Primary Record for her son, he had over 175 visits to a local children’s hospital. She was known as “Jen with the purple bookbag”, because everywhere she went, she carried around a bookbag full of medical paperwork she needed for her son. Once Jen made a Primary Record for her son, she was able to get rid of her purple bookbag. Now she carries that information in the palm of her hand through Primary Record. 

Other Primary Record success stories include helping:

  • Parents better coordinate the specialists they see for their toddler with Down Syndrome.

  • A college-age kid living with a rare disease move two hours away and allow his mother and father to rest a little easier at night.

  • A nurse advocate in Maryland empower daughters to positively impact the care of their aging parents.

  • A pediatrician working with Children’s National in DC to find ways to bridge the gap between primary care and specialists for medically complex kids to ensure their care is easier to navigate for their families.

Adding AI helps refine the story based on the audience

A critical aspect of storytelling is knowing your audience. Primary Record has added artificial intelligence (AI) to their app so family members can refine stories for different audiences. For example, if you’re going to a new cardiologist, it can serve up the labs, conditions, and medications that are really important for cardiologists to understand, to enable patients and their family members to make stories even more effective. 

Our mom Jen in the story above was anxious to go to a new anesthesiologist, worried the doctor was going to ask her about the anesthesia drugs her son had been given in the past. So she asked Primary Record’s AI, “What anesthesia drugs was my son given?” And up comes the list. That was a powerful moment for her – to be able to speak the same language and have an informed conversation.

A story to remember – and be proud of

Oftentimes, 1upHealth’s little slice of fixing healthcare can seem a bit dull. Try telling someone seated next to you at a dinner party how we’re working to improve healthcare interoperability, meet CMS regulations, and simplify workflows like prior authorization, and you’ll likely see their eyes glaze over pretty quickly. But telling the story of Primary Record and how it’s changing the lives of people like Jen and her son, now that’s powerful. That’s a story to remember. That’s a story that makes us proud to get up everyday and say we work at 1upHealth. 

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