What happens when doctors move towards transparency? Q&A with Leana Wen

Physician and public health advocate Leana Wen discussed a highly controversial approach to transparency in the clinical encounter. We caught up with Leana to learn more about her ideas and actions in public health advocacy.

What happens when doctors move toward transparency?

“I want doctors and patients to come together to end the sickness of fear.” Leana Wen, TEDMED 2014. Photo: Sandy Huffaker for TEDMED

What motivated you to speak at TEDMED? I wanted to share a message to doctors, patients, innovators, and all those who are committed to transforming the future of medicine. There is no place better to do that than at TEDMED, in front of people want to learn paradigm-changing ideas and who are already motivated to take action!

Why does this talk matter now? What impact do you hope the talk will have? It’s harder for people now than ever to establish a long-term, trusting relationship with their doctor. There is a growing disconnect between what patients need and what doctors do. I explain in this talk how radical transparency will empower both patients and doctors (and other providers). I hope doctors watching the talk will choose radical transparency and voluntarily disclose both financial conflicts and personal views to their patients. I also hope patients—people—watching the talk will prioritize transparency and choose their doctors accordingly.

What were the top TEDMED2014 talks that made an impression on you? Sonia Shah flipped my conception of cause and effect, and how we may need to change the focus of public health and medical interventions. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz stopped me in my tracks to appreciate how our bodies are made, and how our efforts to interfere with normal body processes can have downstream adverse consequences. Gail Reed and Sigrid Fry-Revere challenged me away from U.S.-centric thinking to consider there is much to learn from how other countries serve patients.

What is the legacy you want to leave? I want doctors and patients to come together to end the sickness of fear. Doctors can take the first step, and let patients into our world. We can ensure patients and their families take part in all bedside rounds. We can embrace open medical records and open disclosure of medical errors. We can show vulnerability and humility with our patients. These are all steps to change the paradigm of medicine from one of secrecy and hierarchy to one that is fully open and engaged. I would love to live in a world where doctors and patients (and all healthcare providers) come together to be equal partners in medical care, without barriers or secrets or fears.

Please share anything else you wish you could have included in your talk. I wish I had more time to talk about how transparency may seem scary, but that research shows openness helps doctors as well as patients. There are studies that show collaborative medical records and open disclosure of medical errors increase patient trust, improve health outcomes, and even decrease malpractice. This will be particularly important as doctors are being measured on quality metrics like diabetes and blood pressure control. Lifestyle changes require trust, and trust requires transparency.

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.

TEDMED Speakers: Stealing Solutions to Medicine’s Toughest Problems

shutterstock_22354027In four short weeks TEDMED 2014 officially kicks off and we are excited to continue highlighting our sessions with you. Next up, we are pleased to present “Stealing Smart,” a session during which speakers will share inspiring stories and ideas about how we can adapt solutions from other industries, and from other fields both inside and outside of medicine, to solve the most intractable problems in health and medicine. This session is dedicated to the idea that sometimes we need to look outside the realm of health to solve the complex issues within.

There’s still time to join us at TEDMED in Washington, DC or San Francisco, CA to experience how these dynamic thought leaders are accelerating health and medicine by “stealing smart.”

Brian Primack, Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, will shed a provocative new light on the health impacts of existing and possible future relationships between certain popular media products and human behavior.

Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at UCLA Medical School, will provide a surprising perspective on how human wellbeing, including mental health, can be improved with insights into animal health.

Ramanan Laxminarayan, Director of the Center For Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy, will discuss an unusual yet imminently practical approach to conserving antibiotics.

Engineer and entrepreneur Drew Lakatos is the CEO of ActiveProtect, a wearable technology company focused on reducing injury with smart garments that monitor mobility, detect falls, and intervene prior to impact.

Neuroscientist Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the NIH and a world leader in the neurobiology of diseases of reward and self-control, will apply a lens of addiction to the obesity epidemic.

Dominick Farinacci, trumpeter and protégé of Wynton Marsalis, will perform. He leads the Lincoln Center expansion in Doha and has played music in the lobby of the Cleveland Clinic.

Leslie Morgan Steiner, journalist and author, will bring the audience along on her journey to learn the truth about a successful medical surrogacy industry on the far side of the world – and how it could provide a model to help solve problems in the U.S.

Abraham Verghese, Provostial Professor and Vice Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, will share compelling insights into the impact of language on health.

Zachary Copfer, former microbiologist and now an MFA in photography from the University of Cincinnati, will share awe-inspiring images in which the world of medicine is the medium as well as the message.

With the goal of creating “spare parts” for human implantation and disease models, Nina Tandon founded Epibone, the world’s first company to grow living human bones for skeletal reconstruction.

Both a forensic toxicologist and an attorney, Stephen Goldner is the Chairman and CEO of CureLauncher, a free, consumer-friendly resource that connects patients to clinical trials based on their unique goals and conditions.