Anders Vege: How WMTY-day started. From heart to hands

In 2014 we started two learning networks in Norway. We wanted to create better and more health promoting pathways for elderly and people with long term conditions. We had two interventions:

  1. Implementing a system approach by a successful pathway pilot in Norway, «Patient Trajectory for Home-dwelling elders”.
  2. Changing direction in healthcare. Moving from asking «What’s the matter?» to «What matters to you?» This was inspired by my dear friend and mentor Maureen Bisognano.

The first reaction on the interventions was inspiring. The pathway appealed to the heads and asking “What matters to you?” moved hearts. 10% of all Norwegian municipalities participated.

The improvement teams came to the second session of the learning networks with frustration. Making health professionals ask “What matters to you?” was difficult. Health care professionals are educated and trained with small “What’s the matter-questions” and that gives us a picture of a diagnose or lost functions. Flipping to the other questions is hard training so we asked the improvement teams, do you think it would help to create a “What matters to you” day? That gave energy and creativity for a change of direction.

In 2014 we had about 30 municipalities participating. We invited them to ask for free badges with WMTY on, and share stories on our Facebook group “gode pasientforløp”. The message was clear: Do whatever creates energy and build a new conversation with your patients and users. And so, this amazing movement had started. The number of participants have grown year by year in Norway. This year we have activity in more than half of the Norwegian health care. And it’s all in the local hands of health professionals in municipalities and hospitals.

In the beginning a lot of health professionals were afraid of asking. They said “we cannot meet the needs they will put on our shoulders.” Time has shown this to be wrong, just as in “shared decision making”, the answer is often modest and about the need of being independent and being able to live home as long as possible. And that creates a climate for focusing on health promotion and training on everyday activities, to live home as long as possible. This is why “What matters to you” day matters so much. It opens our eyes for better health and better coping. Now some municipalities says “in the beginning we were afraid of asking, and now we are afraid if we have not asked”.

The Health and Care Department leads the board for our program. And we are so fortuned that our health minister, Bent Hoie, has promoted our WMTY day from the very beginning. The program is organized by KS, membership organization for municipalities and The Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

We in Norway wish you all a powerful and health promoting “What matters to you-day”.

Anders Vege: When “What matters to you?” becomes really personal