TEDMED Blog

Raising H.E.A.L.T.H. at TEDMED

RaisingHealth-DC-20

Among the many activities at TEDMED 2014, Delegates were invited to contribute their thoughts to “Raising Health” – ideas on how to approach some of the most broad-based, intractable issues of health today, from childhood obesity to medical costs.

On Day One of TEDMED, Delegates focused a great deal of attention in the space to the changing role of the patient in healthcare.  They were asked to discuss and respond to the following questions: How do we empower patients to make healthier decisions? What is the patient’s role from his or her perspective? What is the role of healthy people  (non-patients) in healthcare?

Answers centered on a number of themes:  What are the best ways to develop a strong doctor-patient conversation? How can we include family, caregivers and community in patient care? An informed patient is an empowered patient. What’s the best way to go about that?Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.32.15 AM

“Bring intuition and knowledge of your own body to your healthcare team,” answered one Delegate. “Make the patient the source of applied innovation,” said another. And, “Ask each patient for his or her goal for each visit or what he/she wants to accomplish.”

Click here for a recap of more thoughts on this critical issue, and stay tuned as we cover more thoughts on the Challenges throughout TEDMED. You can also share your own thoughts on Twitter at #greatchallenges.

TEDMED 2014: The First Day

The first-ever two-city TEDMED 2014 began this morning. Some 2,000 Delegates, 90 speakers and performers, corporate partners and 80 start-ups converged at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC and the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco, CA.

For the first time, performances on two stages were virtually linked by simulcast.  “Hello, DC!” University of California, San Francisco neuroscientist and TEDMED co-host Adam Gazzaley greeted inventor and Massachusetts Institute of Technology PhD candidate  David Moinina Sengeh, who co-hosted in DC. The stage program was simulcast to some 150,000 viewers in 142 countries as well.

David Sengeh, at left and foreground, and Adam Gazzaley.

David Sengeh, at left and foreground, and Adam Gazzaley.

Among the highlights of the first day’s talks: The event’s first speaker, journalist Sonia Shah, discussed why humans should regard pandemics less as foreign invasions and more as an ever-present enemy that require changing our own actions and environment to eradicate.

Danielle Ofri, attending physician at Bellevue Hospital, hit a nerve with the audience and dozens of Tweeters by telling the story of how she nearly killed a patient – and didn’t tell a soul for 25 years. Rather than the current “toxic culture of perfection” in medicine, the field would do better to recognize that error is intrinsic to normal human functioning, she said, rather than burying them as rare events or attacking with litigation. For starters, medical leaders should talk about their own mistakes, she said.

Harvard Medical School Professor Ted Katpchuk studied herbalism and acupuncture for years in China, which led to his ongoing investigations into the measurable power of the placebo effect. After all, “Many drugs already mimic what the body can already do,” he said. The brain functions as a prediction machine, so just entering an environment designed to help patients, with its rituals and symbols, jump starts healing mechanisms, he said.

Eleanor Bimla Schwarz discusses the many and surprising benefits of breastfeeding for mothers at TEDMED 2014.

Eleanor Bimla Schwarz discusses the many and suprising benefits of breastfeeding for mothers at TEDMED 2014.

TEDMED Curator Jay Walker spoke about how imagination powers health and medicine, the theme of TEDMED 2014. “Health and medicine is about to change more in the next 20 years than in the last 20,000,” Walker said, mentioning five “superforces” that would revolutionize the field, including synthetic biology, and wearable micro-sensors and tele-medicine that will deliver continuous, real-time health monitoring.

Elizabeth Nabel, the President of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, reminded the audience knowledge is fleeting, and that clinging to the known rarely serves medicine, while “real progress is about changing dogma…to venture into the unknown with intellectual humility.”

“Violence is not ingrained in American culture or law,” said Daniel Webster, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, who suggested that gun deaths be reduced through standards most gun owners could agree upon, including prohibiting ownership for those who have been convicted of a violent crime, and accountability for gun dealers.

The indomitable Diana Nyad spoke at the last session of the day, Flat Out Amazing, which describes her achievement in swimming the 110-mile ocean crossing between Cuba and Florida.

Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos and its heralded technology of producing a viable blood lipids profile from just a drop of blood, famously dropped out of Stanford at age 19 to develop her company. Her mission is to develop truly consumer-oriented, affordable health data technology allowing individuals to anticipate and prevent disease.

Another undaunted inventor, Marc Koska, who devised an auto-disable syringe that has been credited with saving some nine million lives, spent three decades bringing his idea to efficacy. The climax of his talk: the World Health Organization will announce a global initiative to improve injection safety this October.

Here’s a Challenge for you: How can we Raise Health?

shutterstock_180808967We’ve seen the power of collective creativity and goodwill for a good cause recently, so we’re asking our health and medicine community to dig deep once more, this time for a thought experiment: Can we rebuild some of health and medicine’s most complex and critical issues – our Great Challenges – by creatively rethinking their foundations? What do we truly understand about these factors that limit health —and their possible solutions— today?

As we move into the third year of our Great Challenges program, Delegates on site at TEDMED 2014 in Washington, DC and San Francisco will be tackling these issues and more in a special area devoted to exploring the six Challenges we’ve focused on this year. Together, we’re aiming to shake up the status quo, rethink assumptions, and raise health to new heights to meet our evolving needs.

Your input will also help guide direction for the Great Challenges program in the coming year, so be sure to stop by.

Below, find 18 critical questions as determined by our community.  Answer them, validate them, reframe them. We need your input, so please respond here, via Twitter #GreatChallenges, on Facebook and Google+, or on our tumblr.

Impact of Poverty on Health

What’s the best way to invest in poverty reduction to improve health?

Are other people’s health problems everyone’s business?

How should doctors “treat” socioeconomic factors that impact health?

Reducing Childhood Obesity

How can we change our 24/7 food-everywhere culture?

Obesity risk begins in the womb. How can we deliver this message?

How much of obesity is about personal responsibility?

Achieving Medical Innovation

When should patients get to enter higher-risk clinical trials?

How can we align public and private interests to drive innovation?

How can patients be partners in medical innovation?

Making Prevention Popular

Where could health policy go farther to nudge preventive behavior?

Why do we so often do what we know isn’t good for us?

Is prevention about individuals, populations, or both? Why?

Role of the Patient

How do we empower patients to make healthier decisions?

What is the patient’s role from his or her perspective?

What is the role of healthy people  (non-patients) in healthcare?

Addressing Healthcare Costs

How do we create smart “healthcare consumers”?

What kind of system adapts to the changing needs of healthier patients?

How can we align stakeholders to reduce healthcare costs?

Special thanks to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their support of this program.

TEDMED 2014 Session Nine: I Was Just Thinking Too Small

When Robert Hooke looked into a microscope and decided the structures he saw should be named cells, it was an epic moment for scientific probing. It has brought to fruition the longing to see how things really work at their most basic levels, and the ingenuity to devise ways to explore.

Sometimes, however, approaching a mystery or positing a breakthrough means stepping back and applying a wider lens. What if solving a problem means reframing it entirely?

This ninth and final session of TEDMED 2014 is all about taking a look at the bigger picture.

Tomorrow is your last day to register, so don’t miss your chance to join us September 10-12 in Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA.

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 3.11.29 PMScreen Shot 2014-09-02 at 3.11.47 PMScreen Shot 2014-09-02 at 3.11.58 PMScreen Shot 2014-09-02 at 3.12.08 PMExplore our full stage program to learn more about all the speakers who will take the TEDMED stage in just over a week, and stay updated by following @TEDMED on Twitter.

TEDMED Speakers: Exploring the Weird and Wonderful

TEDMED 2014 is less than two weeks away! We’re excited to highlight the second to last session and its speakers, who will be part of TEDMED 2014 this September 10-12 in Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA.

Sometimes, progress happens unexpectedly – in ways you’d never looked for and may not even be able to explain. This session’s wildly creative thinkers will be sharing stories of “Weird and Wonderful” discoveries that came out of the blue, defied expectations, and achieved remarkable results.

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.47.12 PMScreen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.47.23 PMScreen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.47.33 PMScreen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.47.42 PMScreen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.47.53 PMThese remarkable out-of-the-box thinkers will expand your reality and make you take another look at what’s “weird” around you.

Explore our stage program for more details on these and other speakers – and don’t forget to keep up with TEDMED by following @TEDMED on Twitter.

The Upside of Human Nature

From our primal instincts to the unfolding mysteries of how our complex brains evolved and work, humans are amazing and often unfathomable creatures. But if we don’t yet understand everything about ourselves and our surroundings, it’s not for want of trying. Scientists, artists, clergy, and indeed all of the curious among us haven’t given up trying to discern what makes us tick.

This session of TEDMED will explore what we’re learning about the human body and our inner worlds, what elements aid our bodies’ ability to heal, and how what we think of as our external environment is critical to our well-being and, in the end, is a large part of who we are.

Join us September 10-12 as these speakers, and many others, help us unlock imagination in service of health and medicine.

Art of Motion Dance Theatre
Modern Repertory Dance Company
Drawing from contemporary and classic legacies, as well as from yoga and eastern philosophies, AOMDT creates vital works inspired by earthly and imaginary worlds.

Julian Treasure
Sound Evangelist
Julian Treasure is chairman of The Sound Agency, a consultancy advising worldwide businesses on how to design with sound, especially in public or branded spaces.

Mariana Figueiro
Illumination Researcher
Brazilian-Cuban architect and scientist Mariana Figueiro researches the effect of light on humans, including alertness, performance, and cognition.

Jeffrey Karp
Bio-Inspired Innovator
Canadian Jeff Karp’s research focuses on stem cell engineering, biomaterials, and medical devices inspired by nature.

Emery Brown
Anesthesia Neuroscientist
Computational neuroscientist and anesthesiologist Emery Brown explores one of medicine’s big mysteries—exactly what happens to your brain under anesthesia?

Uzma Samadani
Brain Trauma Detective
Uzma Samadani is cofounder of Oculogica, a neurodiagnostic company specializing in detecting brain injuries using a non-invasive, bedside eye-tracking technology.

Debra Jarvis
Irreverent Reverend
For writer, ordained minister, and hospital chaplain Debra Jarvis, humor is a powerful balm, even for the sick and dying.

Zsolt Bognár
Concert Pianist
Concert pianist Zsolt Bognár, who frequently performs on NPR and has garnered critical acclaim, will perform a work by Schubert.

Tiffany Shlain
Interconnected Filmmaker
The work of filmmaker, author, artist, and Webby-awards founder Tiffany Shlain catalyzes deep thought about the future and how we want to live it.

Jen Hyatt
Global Social Entrepreneur
Jen Hyatt is the founder and CEO of Big White Wall, a digital behavioral health service including peers, professionals and evidence-based third party providers.

Peggy Battin
End-of-Life Ethicist
Philosopher and bioethicist Peggy Battin has worked for decades to defend the right of terminally ill individuals to have greater control over the timing and manner of their deaths.

Inspector Gadje
Balkan Brass Band
With up to 15 musicians, San Francisco-based Inspector Gadje brings a big sound to the beautiful and bumpin’ brass band music of the Balkans.

Click here to see the entire TEDMED 2014 stage program, and here to join our event – just 16 days away! – in Washington, DC or San Francisco, CA.

Stay up-to-date by following @TEDMED on Twitter.

TEDMED Speakers on the Power of Play

What do kids have going for them that adults could co-opt for innovative progress in health and medicine?

The “beginner’s mind,” for one, meaning a lack of preconceptions; an ability to stay with the moment; an attention to meaningful life details and the ability to daydream fruitfully. Kids enrich these powers through play.

It’s a good thing that playing is not limited to childhood. In fact, speakers in this session of TEDMED 2014 will reveal the extraordinary power of play for all ages – to fire up creativity, learn through hypothetical experience, and even strengthen brain connections.


Cole Galloway
Pediatric Motor Learning Scientist & Designer
Neuroscientist and physical therapist James “Cole” Galloway thinks differently about the role of self-motivated mobility in shaping who we are in early life.


Gerardo Contino

Cuban Musician

Gritty, witty and streetwise, the Havana-born Gerardo Contino, “El Abogado de la Salsa,” sings timba—a progressive, raucous style of salsa.


Jill Vialet
Recess Champion
Jill Vialet, founder of the non-profit organization Playworks, believes in the power of play to bring out the best in every kid.


Kayt Sukel

Edgy Science Writer
Kayt Sukel tackles interesting and often taboo subjects in her writing, including love, sex, out of body experiences, and adventurous single mother travel.


Carla Pugh
Haptic Educator
Surgeon and education pioneer Carla Pugh wants doctors to fine-tune their haptic skills as a standardized part of their clinical education and daily practice.


Rupa & The April Fishes

Rock Star Hospitalist / Rebel Musician
Rupa & The April Fishes seek to celebrate beauty in pluralism and reinvigorate appreciation for living music with their diverse, global sounds.


Howard Rose

Health Games Designer
Howard Rose is president of Firsthand Technology, which specializes in real-time, interactive 3D games that aim to revolutionize how people learn, work and play.

Click here for details on this session and others, and to find out more about the many intriguing and playful activities at TEDMED 2014.

Apply today
to attend this September in either Washington, DC or San Francisco, CA. Stay updated by following @TEDMED on Twitter.

TEDMED Stage Program by the Numbers

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As we count down the days until TEDMED, we present a numerical look at the speakers for TEDMED 2014.

Some fun facts:

This year, we’re particularly proud that 45 of our speakers – 51 percent – are women.  As we ramp up to an eventual global presence, we’ve invited speakers from 20 nations and five continents.

They also represent a wide variety of interdisciplinary brilliance:  22 MDs, 26 PhDs (10 overachieving MD/PhDs and one hyper-overachieving college dropout), lawyers, architects, economists, journalists, entrepreneurs, an extreme athlete, acrobaticalists, global musicians, comedians, actors, dancers, photographers, and a man who gets a lot of mileage out of his pink tutu.

TEDMED Speakers: Tackling the Taboo

We’re just a few weeks out from TEDMED 2014! Next up – we’re sharing details on “Don’t You Dare Talk About This,” which will be presented on Day 2 of our bi-coastal event. You can’t solve a problem if you refuse to talk about it; to accelerate progress, we need to discuss controversial issues that may make us uncomfortable.

Session 5:  Don’t You Dare Talk About This

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This line-up of inspired risk-takers may just change the way you think and talk about the world’s most taboo health and medicine topics.

Learn more about these and other TEDMED 2014 speakers by exploring our stage program, and apply to attend today. Stay up-to-date by following @TEDMED on Twitter.

Later this week, we’ll be outlining our next session, “Play Is Not a Waste of Time,” about the extraordinary ways play can enhance health and medicine.

TEDMED Live Streaming To Reach 100+ Global Locations

More than 100 organizations around the globe will host TEDMED Live Streaming, a simulcast of the entire TEDMED 2014 stage program, with an estimated total audience of more than 100 thousand viewers.

TEDMED seeks to host an inclusive global dialog among all cultures and walks of life to create a “big picture” for science, health and medicine. It’s the first step toward inspiring breakthrough thinking and insights for the health of our planet’s 7 billion people. To that end, TEDMED will broadcast its entire program from the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and the Palace Theater in San Francisco, CA, both live during the event on September 10-12 and on-demand through September 16.  The live streaming is available at no cost to qualified academic institutions, teaching hospitals, government organizations and non-profits organizations.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 3.23.59 PMAffiliates to date include the World Health Organization, Research4Life, Clinton Foundation, Millennium Villages Project, Sustainable Development Solutions Network, American Public Health Association, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, Society for Participatory Medicine, +SocialGood, the National Institutes of Health and BroadReach Healthcare, among many others.

Affiliates can use the live streaming in many ways to facilitate conversations and collaborations:  Via a group event in a conference room, during a large community gathering or on individual devices.

If your organization would like to access TEDMED Live Streaming, click here to find out more and apply.