Zubin Damania moves forward with innovative Las Vegas clinic

Zubin Damania, a doctor who brought the TEDMED 2013 audience to its feet at the Kennedy Center in April with his vow to radically improve health care delivery, has taken new steps towards doing so.

Damania is Director of Healthcare Development for Downtown Project Las Vegas, an urban revitalization movement led by Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh, and is founding a primary care clinic with the goal of emphasizing preventive care and providing more — and more attentive — patient interaction, access and care management than traditional fee-for-service systems.

The clinic will run on a membership model whereby patients will pay a monthly fee, which Damania says will be less than $100, for unlimited primary care that includes all preventive care and non-emergency sick visits, as well as e-mail and video chats with doctors, nurses, health coaches and social workers. A yoga studio, demonstration gym and teaching kitchen on the flagship site will offer free classes. Staff will also coordinate care with specialists, should the need arise, hopefully helping patients navigate the system and reducing unnecessary treatment.

“The episode nature of care currently in primary care does a disservice to patients. You’re seeing patients for 10 minutes and then the rest of their life continues. If we can…weave ourselves into the fabrics of patient’s lives a little bit better, we think that we can accomplish wellness,” Damania said in an interview with Nevada Public Radio.

The Downtown clinic has also recently brought in Iora Health of Cambridge, MA to be its health care provider. The seven-year-old company has developed a number of innovative care models, including insurance geared towards freelancers and a clinic that serves hotel and restaurant workers with severe or chronic illnesses.

The Las Vegas clinic is slated to open by early 2014.

Watch Damania’s TEDMED talk: “Are zombie doctors taking over America?”

The many upsides of dialing down

shutterstock_131339729The folks at TEDMED are on vacation.  The whole crew. The offices are closed, and the staff is engaging in two weeks of employer-sponsored, compulsory, mind-freeing, feet-upping, email avoiding, old-fashioned rest.

There are many good reasons for a break. Thinking each and every day about innovation, creativity, and the promise and challenges of health, medicine and science can get pretty intense. Not to mention working regularly with some of the most brilliant minds on the planet – TEDMED’s speakers.

More good reasons:  Taking time off may be good for your health; one study suggested it reduced the risk of coronary heart diseaseThat goes for women as well as men, by the way.  A vacation may help you sleep better, at least in the short term. Giving employees downtown can boost productivity and creativity.  As Charles Duhigg explained in his book, The Power of Habit, breaking away from routine is an ideal time to break away from an unfavorable habit, or form a new one.

Proponents of stepping back from the daily grind are legion. The proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” dates back to 1659, according to Wikipedia. Stephen Covey’s seventh habit of highly efficient people was “sharpen the saw,” meaning to take time off, go away, change your pace and your mental activity. And M. Scott Peck, MD, said in his book The Road Less Traveled that an essential part of maturity is balance, which he defined as knowing “how to discipline discipline.”

Part of breaking away ideally includes unplugging, although according to a recent Harris poll, 54% of respondents said their boss expected them to stay connected while away, though many of us probably find being wired also gives us peace of mind.  Yet our love affair with interactive technology is more like a bad romance; it can actually change our brains, making it hard to listen to and relate to real people, a key element in our mental health.  As psychologist and director of Director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self, Sherry Turkle, said at TED in 2012, “We expect more from technology and less from each other.” We can reconnect and repair the brain, at least; miffed family members might take longer to come around.

(I know what you’re thinking here – who posted this?  Well, the elves who handle the always-on worlds of blogging and social media are taking turns resting this summer.)

Not everyone even gets the benefit of time off.  And American workers generally have less than other industrialized nations; in fact, we are the only developed economy that does not federally mandate time off.  Compare that to Denmark, whose workers get a mandated five-weeks leave.  (No wonder the U.N. lists them as the world’s happiest nation.) But even if they do have the opportunity to take the standard two weeks, many Americans simply don’t take the time off, fearing they’ll fall behind or be replaced.

Perhaps it’s all in the attitude we bring to rest — and work — which many wise minds suggest should be more in the form of play. The philosopher Eric Hoffer said, ““When the Greeks said, ‘Whom the gods love die young’ they probably meant, as Lord Sankey suggested, that those favored by the gods stay young till the day they die; young and playful.” Plato seemingly agreed:  “God alone is worthy of supreme seriousness, but man is made God’s plaything, and that is the best part of him. Therefore every man and woman should live accordingly and play the noblest games … Life must be lived as play.”

One can also easily take the advice of comedian Milton Burle:  “Laughter is like an instant vacation.”

Marcus Webb contributed to this post.

TEDMED 2013 speaker Eli Beer receives peace prize in Jerusalem

By Marcus Webb

TEDMED 2013 speaker Eli Beer, founder and president of Israel’s volunteer rescue service United Hatzalah, received the Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East on June 24 at The American Center, a U.S. Embassy complex in Jerusalem.

Eli was honored along with his partner, Murad Alyan, who launched the Muslim unit of United Hatzalah in East Jerusalem.  Thanks to the organization’s focus on saving lives regardless of nationality, religion or ethnicity, United Hatzalah is bringing together Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims, on a daily basis in teamwork that promotes harmony and understanding between peoples.

Seen here from left are Eli Beer, Murad Alayan with Victor Goldberg and Daniel Obst, both with the Institute of International Education. Vic, a former IBM executive, is the IIE board member who launched the prize.  Daniel is IIE’s deputy vice president for international partnerships.
Seen here from left are Eli Beer, Murad Alayan with Victor Goldberg and Daniel Obst, both with the Institute of International Education. Vic, a former IBM executive, is the IIE board member who launched the prize. Daniel is IIE’s deputy vice president for international partnerships.

The Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East is awarded jointly each year to one Israeli and one Arab who work together in a cause that brings people together and breaks down barriers between peoples of the region.

Upon receiving the prize, Eli commented: “Saving lives is our goal. We have no other agenda. Today we are just beginning. We want to get to 3,000 volunteers and a 90-second response time.”

Eli and partner Murad said they would donate the $10,000 cash award that accompanies the prize to United Hatzalah to help fund the purchase of more “ambu-cycles” and medical equipment.

Video: Rafael Yuste climbs the Everest of science

A complete map of our brain activity is the “Everest of science,” says Rafael Yuste, who helped conceive of Obama’s Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative as a first attempt at scaling it. (Click here for details of President Obama’s announcement.)

At TEDMED 2013, Yuste discussed why the initiative is critical to advancing neural knowledge.

Scott Parazynski’s polar adventures

We just received these fun photos from astronaut, explorer, Everest summiteer and TEDMED speaker Scott Parazynski, MD, back now from his shift as the medical officer of the Center for Polar Medical Operations at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).

Holding up the world.

His description: “One is my Atlas photo at the South Pole, and the other is a fun jump shot on the shoulder of Mt. Erebus at 11,200 feet above sea level – the southernmost active volcano in the world.”

Scott Parazynski at Mount Erebus

One has to wonder: What’s next on his bucket list?

Live online event today: Whole-patient care

The number of medical specialists (and specialties) continues to grow while the number of primary care physicians continues to shrink.

In the process, the goal of fitting all these specialties together for effective whole-patient care becomes ever more elusive. How can we treat the whole patient rather than the disease?

Join our Great Challenge team of health leaders for a live event today from 1-2 PM EST to discuss whole-patient care. Ask questions on Twitter @TEDMED #greatchallenges – the group will answer selected questions on air. John Nosta, EVP of Ogilvy CommonHealth, will moderate the chat.

Click here to access TEDMED’s Google Plus event page.