Primary Promise and the “Transformation” of Children’s Healthcare
By Julene Humes
As a mother, grandmother, and Waldorf teacher of young children, an article on KSL.com entitled “3 ways the Primary Promise Initiative will create the nation’s model health system for children” caught my attention. Intermountain Healthcare (IHC), the largest healthcare provider in the Intermountain West, is sponsoring this initiative and, as the title states, is boldly proclaiming their goal to “transform” children’s healthcare and set a standard for the nation to follow. Such an audacious claim raised some red flags for me.
Intermountain Healthcare as an institution is problematic at the outset. It enjoys a monopoly in this area with the consequent centralization, bureaucracy, and imbalanced financial control of health care in general. Moreover, the organization’s handling of the pandemic induces me to be suspicious of any new initiative they advance.2
IHC has three areas of focus for the initiative:
1. Primary Children’s Hospital [in Salt Lake City and soon to be in Lehi, Utah] will be strengthened with the additions of the advanced Grant Scott Bonham Fetal Center, an enlarged and enhanced Level 4 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, an expanded cancer treatment center, and heightened research activities in partnership with University of Utah Health.
2. Pediatric care excellence will be extended across the Intermountain West to bring expert care closer to home. This effort includes the construction of the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Campus, which is a second 66-bed Primary Children’s Hospital in Lehi, Utah; and an expanded pediatric care network utilizing tele-health and digital health services.
3. Emerging children’s health needs will be innovatively addressed through expanded mental and behavioral health services delivered close to or at kids’ homes; teen-to-adult transition programs for children with chronic illnesses; and an expanded Healthy Kids program focused on helping children stay healthy and safe in their communities, including helping kids who have experienced traumatic events to avoid health complications later in life.
Having delved into Alison’s material, I know enough to be alarmed by the words highlighted above. IHC’s plans to “transform” children’s health care through tele-health and digital health service and innovative means of health care delivery hearkens to the global push to use technology to capture, chronicle, blockchain, control, and surveil human beings. Referring to digital health technologies on the World Health Organization (WHO) website it says, “The purpose of a global strategy on Digital Health is to promote healthy lives and wellbeing for everyone, everywhere, of all ages. To deliver its potential, national or regional Digital Health initiatives must be guided by a robust strategy that integrates financial, organizational, human and technological resources.” (Emphasis mine.)
To reduce this to a more immediate and succinct context, at the recent B20 Summit 2022 in Bali, Health Minister of Indonesia Budi Gunadi Sadikin boldly repeated what is being proposed in many places, “Let’s have a digital health certificate acknowledged by WHO.” The B20 Summit resulted in a fifty-two part declaration in which it states, “We support continued international dialogue and collaboration on the establishment of trusted global digital health networks.”
Or consider a statement made by the University of Utah research department, which is partnering with Primary Promise in its efforts, “The Digital Health Initiative (DHI) aims to transform health and health care for patients, their families, and their health care teams by cultivating a thriving research community of digital healthcare pioneers. DHI leverages world renowned expertise from the GApp Lab and ReImagine EHR in playful engagement, standardsbased electronic health record interoperability, and participatory design to catalyze research in engaging digital health innovations.”
The polished presentation of these ideas should not obscure the underlying reality that, to accomplish their aim, there must be significant monitoring and data collection, chronicling of behaviors, and intrusion into every aspect of life through AI, machine learning, sensor networks, biometrics, wearables, and implantables, all likely to be fueled by social impact markets. (Alison’s readers should be very familiar with her voluminous research and documentation in these areas. For review, see here, here, and here.) What better sector than the medical industry to implement these methods of control.
Digital health directly relates to the tele-health aspect of Primary Promise which also raises questions for me. It seems apparent that the lessening of actual, face to face interaction of caregiver and patient results in deteriorating quality of care. I understand the intent to give healthcare access to rural areas, but is tele-health the only way to make that happen? Again, is this normalizing a new, less effective, model of healthcare? Will people’s expectations change? Is it substituting technological solutions for the indispensable human touch?
Moreover, in promoting efforts to go into people’s homes and schools to monitor needs, behaviors, and trauma, will the net result be ever more delegating of heretofore family and community responsibilities to “professionals” and “experts” in a large, removed, centralized organization like IHC? They envision a large cohort of professionals actually visiting homes and schools, but given the exodus of healthcare workers out of the industry, it is more likely that IHC will be forced to rely on digital forms of interaction to monitor children with resulting loss of privacy. In addition, will parents rely less on the traditional, time-tested care passed down from generation to generation and more on these institutions and substandard care administered through remote devices? I understand that people are desperate for help and are caught in cycles of poverty and lack of education that need to be addressed, but, again, and I can’t state it enough, distancing that aid to large, bureaucratic centers will not, in the end, be the most effective. A Zoom call with one’s doctor many miles away for a child with a raging fever cannot replace in-person interaction.
I have no doubt that the people involved in this initiative care about children, and I’m aware of the physical and emotional crises children are in at the present time, yet I don’t think the leaders of this initiative quite realize the potential for abuse through the means they will use to implement these seemingly laudable goals. The leaders and donors to Primary Promise, with, I’m sure, the noblest of intentions, are a who’s who in banking and finance, big tech, multi-level marketing, and religion.
1. Crystal Maggelet, trustee on the board of IHC and CEO of FJ Management, a Utah private holding company in petroleum, healthcare, hospitality, and impact funds
2. Gail Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller Group investing in healthcare and finance
3. Steve Lund, Executive Chairman of the Board and co-founder of NuSkin, a Utah-based multi-level marketing cosmetic company, and General Young Men’s President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 3
4. Spencer Zwick, co-founder and managing partner of Solamere Capital, former chairman of the Romney for President campaign, former Romney aid, and son of W. Craig Zwick, General Authority Seventy of the LDS Church and former CEO of Zwick Construction Company, a leading general contractor for massive construction projects of the Church.
Some of the donors and Primary Promise Campaign Members:
1. Andie and Todd Pedersen, founder of Vivint Smart Home
2. Julie and Greg Cook, founding executive of another Utah-based multi-level marketing company, doTERRA essential oils4
3. Ashley and Ryan Smith, owner of the Utah Jazz basketball franchise and co-founder of Qualtrics, a data gathering platform for companies to assess customer and employee satisfaction.
Some of the Board of Trustees for Intermountain Foundation overseeing Primary Promise:
1. Scott Anderson, Chair of Intermountain Foundation, President and CEO of Zions First National Bank
2. Spencer Eccles, former Chairman of Wells Fargo and Co., former CEO of First Security Corp., board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The University of Utah recently renamed the medical school The Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine.
3. A. Marc Harrison, MD, President and CEO of IHC I make an especial note of the following trustee: Bert R. Zimmerli, CFO of IHC, who oversees IHC insurance and health plans, oversees Intermountain Information Systems, Co-chair of Amerinet Board, a networking, storage and security company, board member of Sotera Wireless, a wearable medical monitoring device company and board member of Healthbox Global Partners, a venture capital company that came out of Healthbox, which says of itself, “Healthbox, a HIMSS Solution, enables healthcare organizations – providers, payers, market suppliers, and start ups – to develop, adopt and invest in the technologies that will drive innovation and digital transformation. . . .”
The readers can make of these connections what they will, but, in my opinion, there is a lot of potential for conflict of interest in addition to the headlong pursuit of high tech solutions to children’s health issues.
IHC will be lending its formidable presence to normalize the detailed extraction of data from children and technological replacement of personalized care. I doubt the players in this endeavor see it that way. People promoting technological solutions to human problems see it only as a convenient way to organize complex information and enhance abilities. Who wouldn’t want these capabilities?
I say—slow down and consider the implications.
I want children to have access to needed health care, to have their traumatic events addressed, to have helpful mentoring; the problem is the overall trend of taking away those services from the communities themselves to be placed in the hands of distant “professionals” on remote devices who claim a monopoly of knowledge that dismisses the importance of warm, present human interaction and the collective wisdom of mothers and grandmothers through the ages. Scientific discovery has blessed humanity, but I fear the tide is turning so that people doubt their own abilities and outsource community services that once upon a time were naturally met at the hearth and home.
Perhaps even more alarming, this new delivery of care will condition children to accept around-the-clock monitoring, extraction of their data, and being tools of machine learning for feeding the AI, the very digitization of their humanity. They are being captured in a “healthbox,” removed from the natural world and alienated from their natural bodies.
In the last two and a half years, I’ve come to doubt that these large behemoths, whether it be IHC or the WHO, have the personal touch children need. Rather I think they have betrayed those they supposedly service. Their handling of the pandemic and reliance on technological solutions has greatly reduced my trust in the medical ethics of the principal players that are now enthusiastically claiming their ability to advance the standard of medical care for children. I recognize that IHC has dedicated, caring, unselfish people who have sacrificed themselves for others. If I get in an accident, I want the incredible care that only they can give; in the area of disease and mental health care, they are increasingly less trustworthy. I don’t want myself or my family to have no option but to submit to invasive monitoring and to be captured in digital systems to qualify for help.
1 – Intermountain Healthcare is changing its name to Intermountain Health in 2023.
2 – IHC mandated vaccines for employees with little to no recourse for exemption and were in lockstep with the national guidelines of Covid care that put people’s lives in jeopardy, i.e., denial of care until severely ill, the administration of the toxic and largely ineffective drug Remdesivir, unnecessary intubation, etc. They also praised and promoted the administration of the Covid vaccine for children.
3 – The LDS church is heavily invested in pharmaceuticals, medical companies, and digital 3 technologies. See https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2020/03/07/lds-church-discloses/
4 – Perhaps incidental to this discussion, I personally distrust the multi-level marketing companies named here. To address the issues completely is beyond the scope of this post, but, with a little research, it is easy to find questionable ethics in the running of these companies. See https://gephardtdaily.com/local/ftc-warns-3-multi-level-marketers-in-utahabout-false-claims-their-products-treat-covid-19/, and https:// www.naturalproductsinsider.com/litigation/judge-approves-nu-skin-lawsuit-settlement