Poverty is a major risk marker for disease. Can prescribing social services help needy patients heal — and keep them healthy in the first place? Onie’s Health Leads team of volunteers provides the missing link between healthcare and social services.
There is a perfect storm of factors behind our national obesity crisis, say HBO’s John Hoffman and Judith Salerno of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can afford to give up tackling it.
Neurologist Jonathan Glass and neurosurgeon Nick Boulis of Emory University ask: Should acceptable risk levels for experimental treatments be recalibrated for the terminally ill who have no other options?
The perfect artificial heart may be one that doesn’t break — or beat. At TEDMED 2012, Bud Frazier and Billy Cohn preview a pulse-less heart pump that works via whirling rotors.
Who needs the scientific method? Vast stores of available data and research-for-hire firms are simply waiting for motivated people to ask the right questions, says Atul Butte, Chief of Systems Medicine at Stanford University.
Can we get eight billion hearts on speed dial? In this TEDMED 2012 talk, Leslie Saxon of the USC Center for Body Computing shows the diagnostic and data potential of marrying smartphone tech with heart monitors.
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.
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.”
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.
Exploring the TEDMED partner spaces in the ” Social Hub” tent uncovered some more fascinating experiences, including a way to check the nation’s vital signs and an opportunity to brainstorm in the cloud.
Which state has the most major depression? The highest unemployment rate? Delegates could find out with the interactive Stats of the Union application from GE. They’ve created a mash-up of data from the Census, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor and other sources, in a free app that presents the results in a visual infographic. Kathleen Voboril, Digital Marketing Manager for GE Capital, walked us through some data visualizations, where we saw striking differences in major depression across the country (low in the Northwest region; very high in Tennessee).
GE is also piloting a new, free diabetes management program for their employees in Cincinnati, where the company builds jet engines. The program provides employees with an FDA-cleared medical device that looks a whole lot like an iPad, and facilitates a “daily health session” — checking in on vital signs, filling out a survey of symptoms, and getting a dose of good old health education. It also pushes out reminders, and sends feedback to a clinician who can follow up on dangerous symptoms. Six months in, GE is finding that participating employees engage more fully and feel more accountable for the management of their condition, said Mary Gillum, a clinical applications specialist with Care Innovations, an Intel-GE company.
Part of the reasoning behind GE’s efforts is to “make healthy communities a competitive advantage like good schools,” said Voboril. The hope is for the whole community to get involved. “If we take personal responsibility and collective responsibility at the same time, can we effect change?”
Booz-Allen Hamilton is working on another critical question, and the hope is that you will respond. “As an industry, what should we be doing right now to improve healthcare that will have the greatest impact on patients?” The company is calling on TEDMED Delegates, TEDMEDLive viewers and fans everywhere to join in the conversation through a global BrainStorm that will take place — get ready — on the Cloud. They’re hoping to foster diverse ideas, a perfect goal for the TEDMED crowd, and will ask users to vote on the best ideas to help unearth trends, said Carrie Bittman, Senior Consultant for Booz-Allen. The top ideas will be presented in a paper to TEDMED. Ideas so far range from the health impact of meditation to tools that support the transfer of knowledge between physicians during shift changes at hospitals. In the meantime, artists are capturing the ideas as they come in with posters at the Booz-Allen space.