As leaders and innovators took the TEDMED stage to present their ideas about health and medicine today and in the future, Delegates were having their own conversations between presentations, inspired by the talks, each other, and by the Great Challenges program.
Fenton Studios filmed discussions by speakers, Delegates and Great Challenge Advocates on some of the most pressing and complex issues — topics like the role of stress and loneliness in disease, and the coming dementia tsunami — led by chief change officer Lisa Witter and executive producer Victor Neufeld. Fenton and TEDMED will release clips throughout the next few weeks; follow @fentonprogress for updates.
In this preview, Witter interviews Michael Roizen, M.D., Chief Wellness Officer of The Cleveland Clinic, and Vice President for Global Health at Johnson & Johnson, Scott Ratzan, M.D.
TEDMED 2012 speaker Mark Hyman, M.D., best-selling author and Chairman of the Institute of Functional Medicine, wowed the TEDMED audience with his story of how community support — in this case, wellness programs delivered via prayer groups — helped 15,000 people lose some 250,000 pounds.
Hyman recently appeared on BigThink.com explaining functional medicine, how it sees disease as systemic rather than an isolated ill, and why it takes lifestyle changes to manage chronic disease. Watch now, and stay tuned for his TEDMED talk — we’ll be releasing videos over the coming weeks.
From access to research and health data (Ben Goldacre, Leslie Saxon), and to basic
resources (Rebecca Onie), to better understanding of autism (Virginia Breen) and balancing patient risk with potential rewards (Nick Boulis and Jonathan Glass), patient issues were a highlight of TEDMED presentations this April.
In the Hub next to the Kennedy Center, corporate partners also focused on patient needs: Philips displayed devices to help improve the patient experience; Nurture, smarter healthcare center and equipment designs geared toward unique patient needs; Johnson & Johnson, interactive experiences to help understand what it feels like to live with schizophrenia.
Delegates seemed to be on the same wavelength. “The Role of the Patient” was elected one of TEDMED’s Great Challenges for focus and discussion in the coming year; it drew the third most votes among the top 20 Challenges.
And Regina Holliday, patient artist activist, captured it all poignantly, colorfully and permanently with paintings and blogs throughout the event, culminating in descriptions and presentations of her work on the Opera House stage to TEDMED partners.
Visit Holliday’s blog for her recount of the TEDMED experience and to see her interpretation of the patient perspective throughout. As she says on her blog, “I often say verbally, ‘We are all patients in the end,’ and sometimes I say that visually.”
It’s been a week since TEDMED’s farewell to the Kennedy Center, and the wires are still humming with reports, discussions and more news on the presentations and speakers — a process that will likely take us clear into TEDMED 2013. A few highlights:
Dave deBronkart of e-patients.net posted a video of his brief interview with Ben Goldacre on positive bias in research publishing, and what that means for doctors — and patients — seeking sound evidence-based medicine.
The party’s over—but for the TEDMED Great Challenges program, which is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the conversation is just beginning. Throughout the year, we’ll host a lively national dialog on the 20 Challenges chosen by the TEDMED community. The program will include TV-style interviews with leaders from across fields, a series of webinars on each of the 20 Great Challenges, and the opportunity for TEDMED community members to add their voice.
We rounded up some of the most exciting things we heard from Great Challenges
advocates over the course of the conference, from the technologies that get the biggest news (but may be overhyped) to the little-known, overlooked epidemics that may have the biggest impact on our health.
Eating right. Yes, it’s important, but why is it so hard? We asked Tracie McMillan, author of The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table, and advocate for Challenge #31, Choosing Better Foods. “It’s not about lecturing people about eating right, but about how do we make that easier? Every community should have access to high-quality, affordable food—just as we ensure everyone has access to high-quality water,” said McMillan. “We act like healthy food is a luxury, to our detriment.” McMillan also said eating well is really about more than just food, too. It’s about fair wages, work-life balance and other factors. Sure, French women don’t get fat (arguably)—but they also have five weeks of paid vacation, covered child care and reasonable work days. Couldn’t we all eat healthfully if we had that kind of time, suggested McMillan?
McMillan shared a table with Challenge #24, Food and Technology: Balancing the Trade-offs, where advocate Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch spoke on another food concern—addressing scarcity in developing countries. “We have decades of research and we have the tools we need today in the developed world—the real challenge is getting that to the developing world,” said Hauter.
We all know cancer’s burden on the public’s health—many of us first-hand, from a friend or family member who’s struggled with the disease. But Challenge #27 brings attention to The Overlooked Cancer Cohort: adolescents and young adults aged 15 through 39. Challenge advocate Leonard Sender said this is because of the perception that this group is young and healthy, while not as vulnerable as children, and therefore not a priority for funding or research. But the truth, Sender says, is that cancer is the disease that kills the most patients under 40 in this country. Around eight to 10 percent of breast cancer patients are young women. Sender said screening is less common in this age group, and “stage for stage,” the cancers are more aggressive and have worse outcomes. “This is the one segment of the population where we could actually see a tangible result if we put resources into it,” Sender said.
From an overlooked population to an overlooked problem, “Many people wouldn’t know there was an epidemic of loneliness,” said Jacqueline Olds, advocate for Challenge #35, The Epidemic of Isolation and Loneliness, and Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Harvard Medical School. It’s been gradual but marked, said Olds, who shared the statistics that 20 years ago people used to have an average of three confidantes they could talk to—now, as a nation, we’re down to an average of one. Loneliness and isolation are linked to a wide range of diseases and undesirable health behaviors, from depression to self-neglect and more. Some solutions could include getting doctors to ask about loneliness as a vital sign, and putting out a national media campaign to educate about the ill effects of isolation.
Special Needs Patients and Children face their own unique set of health and psychosocial issues, said Challenge #38 advocate Alan Fleischman, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine—but it also represents a broader issue. “The problem of taking care of kids with special needs is really a metaphor for the burdens of any kind of chronic care. We need to empower families,” said Fleischman. In his experience, “patients need a little bit of help from the doctor, but a lot of social support. We’ve got to look to the community for resources to give the families what they really need.” “Amen to that,” responded an onlooker and TEDMED delegate, who said he had a son with autism.
Blogroll from continuing coverage of TEDMED 2012. Marya Zilberberg writes on The Health Care Blog about “How I Fell in Love at TEDMED,” calling out Bryan Stevenson and Rebecca Onie, among others – hear, hear. Dirk Hanson’s blog “Addiction Inbox” took a closer look at Ivan Oranky’s fantastic talk about the current epidemic of pre-conditions.
And we present Alphachimp Studio’s digital scribes of TEDMED session #10, “Rethinking Assumptions, Reimagining Possibilities” – similarly met with acclaim by the viewing audience both at TEDMED and at large.
TEDMED’s final day: A flurry of medical revelations, fun music, a bit of newsmaking and reluctant good-byes as the roughly 1,500 Delegates watched the final two sessions and trickled from the Kennedy Center.
Here’s a roundup of coverage from Friday and other highlights throughout TEDMED:
A must-see video preview from MedCity News, including E.O. Wilson’s admonition to med students: “Don’t ride to the sound of the guns. Ride away from them and make your own fray.” TEDMED will start releasing videos of the talks in three weeks.
Patricia Salber of HealthWorks Collective wrote of the “4 I’s of TEDMED 2012” – Innovation, imagination, Inspiration and Icons.
Carmen Drahl of Chemical & Engineering News wrote about how we can keep Andrew Read’s superbugs at bay.
Alphachimp Studio’s iPad “scribes” of the TEDMED sessions capture the proceedings in a suitably imaginative and colorful way – while getting to the crux of speaker topics. Here, for your delight and delectation, is Alphachimp’s take on sessions seven, eight and nine.
One of TEDMED’s goals is to gather and broadcast diverse views on complex issues. TEDMED and Fenton Communications today brought a few Great Challenge Advocates, Delegates and Speakers together to talk one-on-one about the intersection of different health topics ranging from end-of-life care and community, poverty and health, to innovation and “real age.”
Outtakes: Lisa Witter of Fenton sat down with David Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., Director, New Balance Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital, and Tracie McMillan, author of the book, “The American Way of Eating,” to talk about obesity and food as a social good. A good bit of the conversation centered on childhood obesity; as Ludwig pointed out, being overweight as a child greatly increases not only the risk of being overweight or obese as an adult, but also of related health issues — leading to a lifetime of bad health. Fat cells may shrink, but they never leave.
What’s one piece of advice for parents, Witter asked, to promote healthy eating? The
A meeting of public health minds: John Lumpkin, Marc Hyman and Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic, with Lisa Witter of Fenton.
first step is to tone down sweetened foods, Ludwig advised.
“When kids eat junk, they can’t appreciate the taste of unsweeted foods,” he said.
Did McMillan think change was possible? “I’m cautiously optimistic, but as a journalist always a skeptic. But we are at least starting to realize the importance of diet,” she says.
Ludwig said, “I’m a short-term pessimist. Due to massive conflicts of interest on every level things are very difficult to improve. Grassroots efforts are going to take a while to coalesce,” he said.
Author and chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine Mark Hyman, M.D., sat down with John Lumpkin, health director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to discuss community, poverty and health.
“Food is a social issue. We don’t have enough to eat; we don’t have enough quality food; we don’t know how to eat; we don’t know how to cook. This a root cause of our obesity crisis,” Hyman said.
The talks are being videotaped and will be available on the Fenton and TEDMED websites.
The top 20 Great Challenges were announced yesterday. Perhaps one of the most exciting things to come out of the Great Challenges program, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was the amazing conversations that these topics catalyzed. Below are highlights from conversations with advocates for some of the top 20 Challenges.
“Patients themselves might not have the capacity to engage in their own care,” said Lincoln Smith, President of the Altarum Institute. “It’s draining.” Challenge #34, The Caregiver Crisis, came out second in the list of top 20 Great Challenges. The bad news is that health outcomes may be worse for caregivers because of the time, financial and stress burdens they face. Suzanne Geffen Mintz, National Family Caregivers Association Co-founder and advocate for Challenge #34, said what she wants most as a caregiver herself is for someone to, “document what we do. We’re like illegal aliens. We need to be in medical records — both in the patient’s records and in our own.”
This would help identify who needs support and resources, and help to connect them with what they need. Businesses lose billions of dollars in productivity due to caregiver struggles, said Geffen Mintz, and that’s because, “It impacts every sector of society and no family is immune.”
Challenge #2 brings attention to another pervasive problem at crisis levels, Coming to Terms with the Obesity Crisis. “It’s interesting,” said Christine Ferguson, JD, Director of the STOP Obesity Alliance and Challenge #2 advocate, “when we have cancer affecting around 8% of the population, diabetes around 10% and obesity 35% — what has preventing us from addressing it?” Barriers include the perception that the problem is too complicated, or that it’s just a matter of willpower, she said. The “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality that used to exist for mental health issues too, needs to go away before we can truly make progress, said Ferguson. She quoted some startling statistics — over 70% of obese people know all of the relevant health messages such as portion size, and have tried to change at least once; while 70% of primary care providers say no one in their office had any training on helping overweight and obese people get healthier. People are motivated and trying, but they don’t have the resources or support for change.
Marty Kearns, Project Director of PreventObesity.net, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said his organization is working to change policies and environments to help children and families eat well and move more, and by fostering, engaging and connecting a base of advocates who are willing to take action. Partick McCrummen, Senior Director for Corporate Contributions at Johnson & Johnson, also talked about the value of collaboration, and said J&J is hoping to serve as a convener for thought leaders and global organizations.
As we’re working so hard to improve the health of the world, what’s the one thing we’re all forgetting? “It’s the secret health crisis that’s right in front of our face,” said Russell Sanna, PhD, Executive Director of Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine and advocate for surprise add, Challenge #51. The big culprit? Sleep. We all know we need it, and none of us get enough. Why not? “There is an uncoordinated conspiracy against sleep health,” said Sanna. Feeding the conspiracy are Facebook, mobile phones, entertainment, an over-achieving society and pervasive sleep illiteracy. Embarrassingly, Sanna quickly uncovered this reporter’s own sleep illiteracy — sleep bulimia (“I’ll catch up on sleep this weekend”) doesn’t work? The color blue triggers your circadian rhythm (think Facebook), keeping you up when you should be winding down?
“There’s hope,” said Sanna. NBA stars are now hiring sleep consultants to ensure better performance despite hectic schedules (sound familiar?). Sanna hopes this is the start of a massive culture shift that will no longer encourage or allow bad sleep habits. Possible solutions: encourage employers to trigger a “go-dark” period on company Blackberries, and Facebook to turn its blue background grey at a user-specified hour as a reminder to shut down and get some sleep.
But every solution won’t necessarily work for every person. “Each individual has different health risks,” said Rebecca Sutphen, President and Chief Medical Officer of InformedDNA and advocate for Challenge #4, Shaping the Future of Personalized Medicine. “The genome is the key to paying attention to the right things,” said Sutphen, who urged us as a society to move medicine forward by unlocking the solutions that lie within our own bodies.
We spoke with many more advocates and overheard some fascinating conversations. Stay tuned for more on the 20 Great Challenges throughout the year.