Use Multiple Levers to Push the Needle

Mohit KaushalThrough a career that has spanned clinical medicine, venture capital, and health policy as a White House Health IT task force member and the FCC’s Connected Health Director, Mohit Kaushal has gained a unique and broad perspective on the challenges of healthcare technology. Last year he joined Aberdare Ventures, and he remains an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at George Washington University and an appointee to a committee that advises the Department of Health and Human Services on data access and use.

TEDMED: What’s the most remarkable innovation you are seeing in health tech or medicine, and what is driving it?

Kaushal: There’s no single answer, but there are a couple of themes I really like. Pure technology innovation is one big bucket that includes personalized medicine. Medicine is very reactive right now: we wait for people to become unwell before we treat them, especially with chronic disease. Personalized medicine is weaving genomics and real life data together to figure out when we can start managing people earlier in the progression of disease.

Deeper into that is using proteomics and epigenomics to understand the whole body’s network and signaling, and using that to better understand disease and to better target drugs. Many drugs, especially in cancer, are expensive, have terrible side effects, and only work for a certain proportion of cancers. And that’s because cancer is probably many different diseases. The notion of understanding disease at its core to better target drugs is remarkable, along with all the tools and technologies that enable that, such as genomic sequencing.

The other piece I’m very interested in is more on the delivery side: How do we reconfigure the delivery of care? How do we move from a system that’s been built for acute care, with big expensive hospitals and expensive doctors, to a system that takes care of patients in more cost-effective settings, such as outside the hospital? And how do we use technology to enable that?

The framework for that is data capture—remote devices and sensors, as well as data storage and analytics—to turn multisource data into insights and then allow us to intervene. That’s a convergence of connectivity, storage, analytics, and behavioral change. All of these are technologies that, wrapped around the right service models, will effect positive outcomes.

TEDMED: What’s the most important factor for entrepreneurial success in health tech—and is that different from your own key to success?

Kaushal: The most important factor for entrepreneurial success in any industry is the quality of the management team and a little bit of luck. If you have the best science and the best management team, you increase your chances of success.

To go deeper, the specific qualities depend on the thesis of the company. If you’re trying to start a biotech company, you’ll need a mix of people with clinical, scientific, and business skills; those are very specific to the company. But generically, success depends on a team that is cohesive and can execute together. At many stages of the company, you need someone who is the Jack-of-all-trades. That’s the person who is really putting it all together.

If you’ve met some of the best ones, they’ve got real drive, real motivation that is less about cash and more about changing the way we do stuff. All of them work extremely hard and face challenges. In a word, they have hustle.

Is that different from my own keys to success? I don’t know if you could call me successful! If the question is, “What is the key to success in venture capital?” there are some common elements, but it’s hard to say.

TEDMED: For entrepreneurs with needle-moving ideas in global health, what are the keys to finding collaborators and supporters across specialties, industries, and geographies?

Kaushal: From the global health perspective, each market is very different. We could divide this into two themes: one is a scientific theme. I mean, a pill is a pill; it will work anywhere. But on the delivery side, it is different from country to country. There are different rules, regulations, delivery mechanisms, and infrastructures everywhere.

The first thing to think through is whether the end product as a manifestation is scalable as it is, or does it need to be tweaked for local markets? It’s not like WhatsApp, where you can build a very small labor company in the Bay Area to deliver the fundamentally same service around the world.

In terms of partners, it really depends on the specific population, but what many early stage companies need are partners who have local insights and knowledge and can help navigate the local distribution.

TEDMED: In 2020, you’re asked to give a TEDMED talk about the biggest transformation you helped bring about in your field. What is it?

Kaushal: I’ve been lucky to work on different pieces of healthcare. I was in the Obama Administration working on policy, and I think if you can move policy in the right direction by even a degree, the positive impacts are huge. But I was also in clinical practice as a practicing doctor, I do academic work, and the innovation of excellence is what I do now. Any transformation I could help bring about would tie all of those pieces together. What makes me passionate about where I am right now is using multiple levers to push the needle.

Introducing the Next 10 Hive 2014 Startups

You’ve met 41 of the Hive 2014 startups so far. Today we introduce 10 more who will join us live this September 10-12 in Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA, as we bring the world together to celebrate innovation and progress in health and medicine. Mobile devices, sensors, and apps will play a huge role in healthcare delivery, and many of these Hive inductees are leveraging those technologies in genius new ways. Read all about them here.


ActiveProtective created clothing and wearable devices that help protect wearers from injury through sensors that can detect falls or rapid motion and deploy micro-airbags.


BeneVir Biopharm is designing a cancer therapeutic that could benefit a wide range of cancer patients by inducing the immune system to recognize and rid the body of two types of tumor cells.


Clear Guide Medical has created next-generation ultrasound guidance for needle-based procedures that makes hitting the target as simple as playing a video game.


Infield Health marries custom patient data analytics and optimal care protocols to help patients use their mobile phones to adhere to care plans before and after hospital procedures.


Klappo is a platform that enables the development of apps to help people make educated choices about the food and ingredients they consume.


Maxwell Health provides a paperless, mobile-enabled operating system to dramatically simplify and streamline enrollment and management of employee benefits.


MessageDoc provides a secure and easy-to-use communication system to save providers time and money, improves relationships between practices, increases patient engagement, and helps avoid repeat visits.


Possible is pioneering an approach that integrates the best of private, public, and philanthropic models to deliver high-quality, low-cost healthcare to the world’s poor.


Remedy’s secure, HIPAA-compliant platform leverages Google Glass to enable remote experts to see through the eyes of on-site physicians and weigh in on procedures, treatment plans, or diagnoses.


TedCas has created an operating-system-agnostic way to enable surgeons to control any computer in the operating room via gestures and voice commands. It’s touch-less technology for healthcare.

Plus, check out the latest Hive Curator interview on the TEDMED Blog this week, featuring the Philips Healthcare Chief Design Officer Sean Hughes, who leads a global design team that is developing a broad range of word class products, interfaces, and consulting solutions to shape the future of healthcare and save lives. Read more here.

Eleven more Hive companies to be unveiled next week. Stay tuned @TEDMED.

– The TEDMED Team

To Address the Continuum of Care? Collaborate

SeanHughesAs Chief Design Officer at Philips Healthcare, Sean Hughes leads the global design team, developing a broad range of world class products, interfaces, and consulting solutions to shape the future of healthcare and save lives. Over a 20+ year career across 3 continents and multiple business categories, he has built and led multidisciplinary award-winning design teams that deliver business results while maximizing the role of design as a key element of sustainable competitive advantage.

TEDMED: What’s the most remarkable innovation you are seeing in health tech or medicine, and what is driving it? 

Hughes: There are a number of remarkable things happening in the health industry. One of the most fundamental ones is the rise and the breadth of digital technologies—from telecommunications, to Wi-Fi, to Bluetooth, to near field communication, to data aggregation—that are having a significant impact in healthcare and medicine. The fact that we can gather, communicate, analyze, and measure data is allowing us to think about how we might deliver care in very different way.

Another remarkable innovation for medicine is social media. The power of social media brings communities of patients and professionals together and provides them with the openness and ability to communicate. Patients are empowered now, coming to the table with their own diagnoses.

The new ways we can interact with technology is also having an impact on what we think we can do. These new interaction paradigms include very easily touch-controlled devices, voices becoming a way to navigate and better communicate, gesture control—which is the next thing in gaming, but is a way to track medical devices—and wearable technology, including smart, discrete sensors that you put in and around your body to monitor your health, lifestyle, and sleep. All of those can impact how we treat, diagnose, and care for people.

Driving all of this innovation in part are the challenges the industry is facing to deliver more care to more people at lower cost.

TEDMED: What’s the most important factor for entrepreneurial success in health tech—and is that different from your own key to success?

Hughes: What I saw in many of the Hive applicants, and what I believe is crucial to being successful, is a lot of passion and an enormous degree of self belief. Passion entails believing in your ideas and having the energy to continually push. Generally, if you’re innovating, you’re pushing against the current. In some cases it’s going to be disruptive and you have to challenge the status quo. You need a good degree of belief to convince others that this new or different way of doing things or looking at things is worthwhile so people will change their mind and follow you.

Timing is also really important. You can have a great idea, but you might be just a little bit early or ahead of the adoption curve and it will flounder. One or two years later, some other factors come to bear and you can have a massive hit.

Entrepreneurship is also about experimentation. Most successful entrepreneurs don’t often have the success with their first product or business. They’ve continued to evolve and push and it’s maybe the second or third time when they really hit the home run. Entrepreneurship is about active experimentation, risk, trial, and perseverance.

Finally, underneath it all, successful entrepreneurs possess an understanding of the market or the people they’re trying to reach.

Personally, I have a passion and desire to make a difference and that’s what I’m trying to do—to use design capabilities to help us deliver better healthcare. We passionately believe in that at Philips, which is why we’re working hard every day to create the future of healthcare.

TEDMED: For entrepreneurs with needle-moving ideas in global health, what are the keys to finding collaborators and supporters across specialties, industries, and geographies?  

Hughes: Networking, networking, networking. Increasingly, the world of healthcare is an incredibly complex networked ecosystem, and you have to be actively engaged within and open to working across that network. Of course, companies who are part of or applying to be in the Hive are taking one step in that direction, and many of them had already presented their ideas in other forums before TEDMED.

In the past, maybe life was simpler. At Philips, we made equipment, sold equipment, put it into service, and gave a service contract. That paradigm has changed. Our customers are asking us to do more, we want to do more, and we believe we can add more value by moving up the value chain, including by delivering services, offering solutions, taking some of our customers’ problems away, providing care outside of the hospital, moving care into the home, and transforming how care is delivered.

But we can’t do that on our own. We need to be active in that network with new partners, governments, local authorities, startup tech companies, or whoever it might be. And we can leverage our local network to help nurture smaller companies that collaborate with us. The era of open innovation is really upon us. Because of our global reach, scale, and R&D expertise, companies like Philips have a very active role to play in collaborating with smaller and more nimble companies to provide better healthcare solutions. We don’t have all the good ideas at Philips; we’re open to working with others who have good ideas. 

TEDMED: In 2020, you’re asked to give a TEDMED talk about the biggest transformation you helped bring about in your field. What is it?

Hughes: At Philips, we set ourselves a target to touch 3 billion lives per annum by 2025. That’s an audited number, not just made up, and it’s about us having a positive impact on the world. At Philips we talk about bringing innovation to you, and that’s how we’re going to measure that. We should be well on our way to achieving that by 2020.

Dreaming about what I’d say to that TEDMED audience in Washington in 2020 about what I have achieved as the chief design officer for Philips Healthcare, I’d like to be able to say we’ve been a leader in the digital transformation of care; we’ve brought care to more places and to more people; and we have a portfolio of solutions and offers across the continuum of care that help you through your healthcare journey of life, in wellness as well as clinical intervention. And we’d be able to pat ourselves on the back and say that we’ve delivered what our brand is all about, which is bringing innovation to you, the end user.

Live Online Event: How does poverty affect health decisions?

Poverty affects every aspect of life and has particularly bad repercussions on human health. The stress of poverty has detrimental effects on the body — and especially the brain.

Two landmark studies are among the many to show poverty’s harsh impact. In the Whitehall Studies, researchers at the University College of London sought to understand how the health of men in the British Civil Service varied by rank. Published in 1978, the first study showed that men ranking lowest were nearly four times more likely to have their lives abruptly ended by heart disease than those at the top. More recently, economist Barry Bosworth at the Brookings Institute and Kathleen Burke of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published a study in April 2014 about the life expectancy of women in their mid-fifties with similarly morbid results. A woman at the top of the income scale could expect to live an entire decade longer than a woman of the same age at the lower end.

Obvious reasons exist for health problems among the poor. Physician shortages in low-income neighborhoods leave individuals in these areas with hard options. The closest primary care physician may be over an hour’s ride away on public transportation, which makes it financially taxing and time consuming to make prescribed visits. Beyond the health care system, individuals living below the poverty line are usually overworked, sleep deprived, not able to afford healthy food, and constantly exposed to less than adequate living conditions. The list goes on.

shutterstock_177309557Scientists have begun to discover that poverty takes its toll on health starting at an early age. A recent study published in Nature pointed to telomeres, which are the caps on the end of chromosomes. The research showed that children who grew up in low-income families had shorter telomeres than their peers from more wealthy families. While telomere length naturally reduces with aging, premature shortening of telomeres can lead to a shortened lifespan, as well as an increased risk of chronic disease.

Poverty May Affect Cognitive Function

This host of daily problems also causes toxic stress that doesn’t just target the immune system; it influences almost every aspect of the body, including the brain.
“Studies show chronic stress can change the chemical and physical structures of the brain,” Annie Gilbertson explains in her recent article, “Teaching Through Trauma.”
These changes can be linked to impairments in attention, concentration, memory, and cognition.

One haunting finding is that damage can be done before a child is even born. Psychological and physiological mechanisms activated in response to the stress of poverty send signals to a developing fetus about this environment. According to a 2012 study published in The Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, stress-induced changes in brain architecture that occur in utero “have potentially permanent effects on a range of important functions, such as regulating stress physiology, learning new skills, and developing the capacity to make healthy adaptations to future adversity.”

With such cognitive disadvantages from the start, it’s no wonder that those in poverty don’t always make health conscious decisions. Johannes Haushofer and Ernst Fehr examined decision-making skills of individuals living below the poverty line in their recent research On the Psychology of Poverty. They found that individuals who are financially constrained favor short-term over long-term benefits when making decisions. This type of thinking is what drives a person with persistent chest pain to self-medicate in lieu of visiting a doctor, or to invest their paycheck in a tv instead of gym membership.


Intervening in the Cycle of Poverty

Does poverty automatically lead to a hopeless health outcome? A number of community-based interventions hope to turn the prognosis around. For example, some schools that serve low-income students have been looking for ways to support students and their families inside and outside of the classroom. These efforts include counseling for kids who have been through a traumatic experience or are battling a mental health issue, tutoring for students who are struggling with academics, and helping parents find healthcare providers. Other organizations cater to the needs of low-income areas by offering a one-stop-shop sort of clinic that not only offers basic medical care, but also groceries, eyeglasses, and clothing.

With more inclusive and accessible healthcare options, there is hope that some of the health problems caused by poverty will be abated.

Scientists are also making efforts to find the best way to help reverse or eradicate poverty’s health effects. Could education about basic health and nutrition for low-income populations help? Could cash transfers improve some of the health problems that result from poverty?

poverty hangout

To learn more about psychology of poverty and which interventions work best to thwart the cycle, join a live online event. Participants include:

Joe Rojas-Burke (moderator): Independent Journalist and Author of “The challenge of writing about people in poverty
James Redford: Director of Paper Tigers
Laura Gottlieb, MD, MPH: Center for Health and Community at UCSF
Johannes Haushofer: Postdoctorate at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab
Teri Barila and Mark Brown: Children’s Resilience Initiative

By: Lydia Marks

The Hive 2014: The next 10 startups announced

How will having access to data, counsel, diagnostic tools and even providers in our own homes and via smartphones change how we experience healthcare? The ten Hive 2014 entrepreneurs we’re announcing this week showcase some thoughtful and smart uses of cloud and web-based tech to improve the health of humanity.  Read all about them below and on

Edison Nation Medical

Edison Nation Medical innovation headquarters helps to commercialize qualified healthcare portal and medical device product ideas for faster progress in health.

Graphium Health

Graphium Health uses cloud computing and mobile tech to help physicians, administrators and patients make better pre- and post-surgery decisions.

Integrated Plasmonics

Integrated Plasmonics creates home-based diagnostic tools and apps to help patients better manage and improve chronic diseases from home.


Medlio provides a virtual insurance card, giving patients a place to track data and to get transparent cost information to help connect with the right providers.


Moov helps people maximize exercise with a first-of-its-kind wearable device that can track movements in 3D space and make real-time recommendations.


Opternative is the world’s first online eye exam that can deliver a prescription, signed by an ophthalmologist, for glasses and contact lenses.

Optimized Care Network

The Optimized Care Network, or OCN, leverages a virtual healthcare delivery model to improve healthcare accessibility and experience for both providers and their patients.


Phobious is a mobile technology with a hyper-realistic virtual environment that aims to treat anxiety related disorders more quickly with systematic desensitization.


SunSprite, the first wearable light tracker, tracks personal bright light and UV exposure so users can get enough light to be healthy while avoiding harmful rays.


Validic is a platform connecting patients and providers with convenient, easy access to digital health data from a litany of devices, including healthcare apps,  wearables, biometric devices, and fitness equipment. 

Plus, don’t miss this week’s Hive curator interview on the TEDMED blog: Michael Blum, Associate Vice Chancellor for Informatics, a Professor of Medicine in Cardiology, and Chief Medical Information Officer at the University of California, San Francisco, talks about how we must and can provide clinical validation for wellness assessment devices. Read more here.

Convenient Sensing and Assessment Technologies Will Improve Life



Michael Blum is Associate Vice Chancellor for Informatics, a Professor of Medicine in Cardiology, and Chief Medical Information Officer at the University of California, San Francisco.

He is responsible for the strategic design and implementation of enterprise clinical and research information systems and technologies across the university, provides clinical leadership for the enterprise-wide implementation and optimization of the campus’s electronic health record system and enterprise data warehousing, and leads UCSF’s new Center for Digital Health Innovation.

As an active clinician, Blum specializes in general and preventative cardiology and is passionate about wellness and the prevention of heart disease through a heart-healthy lifestyle. He has been an advisor to numerous healthcare technology start-ups, early stage companies, and industry stalwarts and was the clinical lead on the joint Intel-Motion Computing development of the first successful healthcare-specific tablet computer, the Motion C5.

TEDMED: What’s the most remarkable innovation you are seeing in health tech or medicine, and what is driving it?

Blum: Outside the technology space, the huge change in medicine is how much more data patients and well people are seeking in trying to maintain their wellness. Their expectations have changed dramatically as they try to assess themselves and see how they compare to what they’re finding.

There are, obviously, all sorts of views about the quality of the information they’re finding on the Internet. Some is misleading in that it appears to quote scientific literature, but does not. There is a bit of confusion. But the change is that society has transitioned from relying on one trusted source to seeking information; Google has transformed the world that way.

In health tech, the remarkable innovation we’re seeing is in sensing and assessment. We’re on the precipice of seeing that things we couldn’t assess outside an intensive clinical environment are now going to be measurable and monitorable at home. We’ve already seen that with the ability to monitor heart rhythm. What is coming is the ability to assess things that previously needed blood draws and lab tests or monitoring in an office, clinic, or hospital.

Monitoring things such as blood glucose, constant heart rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and carbon dioxide content in the blood will become straightforward. Communicating that data to ubiquitous smartphone technology and moving from there into much more sophisticated apps with algorithms embedded will be game changing.

TEDMED: What’s the most important factor for entrepreneurial success in health tech—and is that different from your own key to success?

Blum: We’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurial activity in health tech that’s been divorced from the clinical environment and from scientific validation. These devices have been built by technologists outside of the clinical environment without scientific validation that makes sure they’re accurate or that they have the rigor to assess people accurately and reliably.

Patients and individuals who want to assess and maintain their wellness and manage chronic diseases are expecting a device that has been validated and that they can have confidence in. They want to be able to have a discussion with their healthcare provider about the data that comes from it.

One of the critical factors will be validation done in a clinical environment by experts. That’s going to create new health tech partnerships with academics. We need devices that generate data that stands up to the light of scientific scrutiny and is believable.

That’s the environment we provide at UCSF. That’s what led to our collaboration with Samsung, and that’s what we view when we look at a startup or health tech opportunity. We look at their concept, their technology, and their interest in validating it in the clinical environment. A lot of things work, but do they allow us to do things better, faster, and less expensively? Answering that question will be the key to success.

TEDMED: For entrepreneurs with needle-moving ideas in global health, what are the keys to finding collaborators and supporters across specialties, industries, and geographies?

Blum: If you can’t cure something, knowing about how much of it exists is not particularly helpful. But if you have a relatively straightforward and inexpensive technology solution that can lead to affordable treatments that have major impacts on the health of a population, then that’s fantastic.

For example, there are efforts to look at simple photographs of patients’ eyes—of their retinas and corneas—to determine if there is parasitic infection that could be treated with antibiotics to prevent blindness. But doing sophisticated heart monitoring and ultrasounds for people in a socioeconomic environment where treatment is unavailable? That is a different story.

The needle-moving things in global health are when you find technology applications or innovations that lead to assessments of individuals and populations in a state that is curable, treatable, preventable, or even manageable within the context of their healthcare and socioeconomic environment. If just the identification and monitoring makes it treatable, then that makes it needle moving.

Developing technology that finds something that is too intensive, too difficult, or too expensive to treat might be interesting, add to scientific understanding, and point out future areas for work, but it won’t make huge changes right then.

Finding and competing for collaborators, funding sources, and supporters who are philosophically aligned and have the resources is going to be effective. Collaborators and supporters are evolving an NGO approach to global health. For instance, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is making huge efforts and impacts on global health in multiple areas. There’s a new collaboration at UCSF between Lynne and Marc Benioff in partnership with the Gates Foundation to give $100 million to look at efforts around preterm labor and other common healthcare problems in underserved populations. There will be some technology development there that will have a significant impact in global health.

TEDMED: In 2020, you’re asked to give a TEDMED talk about the biggest transformation you helped bring about in your field. What is it?

Blum: Six years from now we will use technology in a way that allows us to provide more preventative chronic disease management and wellness support to patients at home than we could have previously in many of their ambulatory encounters where they had to come to the healthcare environment.

Through the use of technology, in six years we will provide predictive information to individuals without them needing to come to us. The information tells them what they need to do to avoid getting sicker in the future. And it gives them the ability to manage their health much more effectively in real time, without needing to come into the healthcare space or wait for their six-month blood draw visit.

In six years we also will support aging-in-place of the elderly. Through the use of technology, we will know about and treat well in advance simple conditions like urinary tract infections that used to result in very bad outcomes such as urosepsis, falls, and broken hips. Early screenings for dementia will enable us to deliver support at home so elderly patients don’t need to go into assisted living.

We will have major impacts on disease management so that when we look back six years from now, we’ll see that the elderly are now able to enjoy their time at home much longer and individuals with chronic disease are able to manage their disease in a much more effective and less expensive way with connections to providers who advise them at home rather than in the office twice a year.

All of that will result in more satisfied and healthier patients with less cost to the healthcare system overall.


TEDMED 2014 Program Announced: Speakers & Session Themes

unnamed-1It’s official – today TEDMED is sharing the first release of speakers who will take the stage during our first-ever, bi-coastal gathering. This unified program will take place simultaneously in San Francisco, CA and Washington, DC from Sept. 10-12.

Our speakers will appear in 9 sessions over the three days, each with its own individual theme. Our team has carefully selected each speaker and session theme to reflect the overarching message of TEDMED 2014: “Unlocking Imagination in Service of Health and Medicine.”

As you may have noticed, we’re pretty big on imagination around here. Our Chairman Jay Walker explained why.

“We at TEDMED believe the world urgently needs to transform its current trajectory, where our rapidly aging global population is colliding with skyrocketing rates of disease,” said Jay. “To create a better tomorrow in health and medicine for our planet’s seven billion people will require a multi-disciplinary approach, intellectual openness and above all, imagination.”

“Scientific rigor and evidence-based standards produce the raw material for discovery, breakthroughs and progress,” Jay said. “After that, it is imagination – the courage to ask big questions, and the willingness to dream of possibilities that never existed before – that will enable us to conceive the new solutions, embrace new thinking and implement the new approaches we need.”

“Accordingly, TEDMED is focused on ‘unlocking imagination’ because, quite simply, imagination is the turbocharger for everything else,” he said.

We’re very excited about the speakers who will help us “unlock imagination” at TEDMED 2014. They include some of the most respected names in science, journalism, education, business and technology. On the TEDMED stage they will tackle some of the most controversial issues in American life and health – explore amazing new scientific insights and medical approaches – demonstrate impressive new technology – wrestle with some of the toughest conundrums in health and medicine – and explore some of the most awe-inspiring phenomenon in both human nature and the natural environment, as well as the cross-influences of the two.

TEDMED has some additional exciting news today.

In collaboration with Imagine Science Films, we are releasing nine short avant-garde films inspired by the themes of the nine stage sessions at TEDMED’s September gathering.

“The creation of this ambitious film program reflects TEDMED’s tradition of emphasizing the complementary nature of science and art,” said TEDMED Partner and COO/CMO Shirley Bergin. “The scientific worldview and the aesthetic perspective can each open an invaluable window on the other.”

Our Director of Stage Content Nassim Assefi added: “These thought-provoking films, like the presence of artists and performers in every session of our stage program, are designed both to communicate science to the public, and to inspire the scientific imagination of the TEDMED community.”

TEDMED 2014’s integrated stage program will be organized around the identical nine session themes in both venues: the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, CA and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. These themes and speakers within each include:

“Turn It Upside Down.” We’ll explore surprising insights that flip beliefs, question standard operating procedures, discard some closely held assumptions and lead to fresh insights about health and medicine.

“We Just Don’t Know.” Presenters will highlight the liberation that can take place when we recognize the limits of our knowledge – those transformational moments when we realize that the more we know, the more we realize how little we know.

“Flat Out Amazing.” This session focuses on imagination at the far edge of possibility, featuring stories of the seemingly impossible acts, facts or events that should inspire and dazzle even the most cynical or sophisticated listener.

“Stealing Smart.” Some of the best solutions to problems in health and medicine come from other worlds than the domain where the problem originated or is usually addressed.

“Don’t You Dare Talk About This.” Our speakers will ask difficult questions and boldly tackle controversial issues in health and medicine that many people are reluctant to discuss publicly, or even acknowledge as problems.

“Play Is Not a Waste of Time.” We’ll reveal the many ways that imagination rewards us, specifically how health and medicine are enhanced through the extraordinary power of play.

“Human Nature Inside and Out.” Speakers will share new views and unusual perspectives that reveal who we are as human beings and the impact of our environment on our health.

“Weird and Wonderful.” A joyful survey of surprising combinations and remarkable results. Speakers will discuss science and health trends that came out of left field, defied expectations or simply seemed completely off the wall — in a good way.

“I Was Just Thinking Too Small.” Sometimes we need encouragement to step back and see the full picture, realizing that a narrow focus can be as limiting as it is productive.

This promises to be the most exciting TEDMED gathering yet. Get ready to unlock your imagination! And stay tuned as we make additional speaker announcements and share further event details in the coming weeks.


Community hospital starts its own patient-centered innovation center

Nick Dawson, who moderated last week’s Great Challenges Googe+ Hangout on medical innovation, is also the new Executive Director of Innovation at Johns-Hopkins Sibley Memorial hospital. He’s helped to run a new onsite Innovation Hub, a cross-disciplinary design studio set to launch this fall at Sibley. We talked to him about the Hub and its goals.

TEDMED: What are the Hub’s goals?

Dawson: The Hub will primarily foster a culture of patience and human centered innovation for everybody in the organization to take part in problem solving, improving processes and thinking about how we do our day-to-day work. The Hub will also engage in cutting and leading edge innovation and design work in health care to improve everything from patient experience to clinical process flow. We maybe even invent new products and services.  We’ll be changing culture plus doing classic innovation and design work.

Sibley's Innovation Hub features new perspectives: Pictured: Nick Dawson and Joe Sigrid
Sibley’s Innovation Hub features new perspectives: Pictured: Nick Dawson and Joe Sigrin

TEDMED: Why now?

Dawson: There are some pragmatic realities. Healthcare costs have risen. Clinical quality, despite really well intentioned and impactful work, can be improved.  We may not have enough providers the future,  Above all, it’s become part of our collective discussion to question if we are delivering truly human centered healthcare and meeting the needs of our population, making them healthier and keeping them from being admitted to the hospital and from having serious chronic conditions. We’re having that conversation as country, and we ought to have that conversation within health systems.

TEDMED: Do recent statistics about poor outcomes in the U.S. fuel the fire, despite all the money we spend on healthcare?

Dawson: They are disappointing, and I’m certainly one to help beat that drum and say we need to be doing a better job. At the same time, [numbers] can be misleading because we really do some things incredibly well.  We pioneer techniques and procedures and we’re innovative as a medical community. For example, laproscopic procedures were developed in part right here at Sibley Hospital. A lot of new drug therapies come out of American pharmaceuticals.  So, while we do need to be having a serious discussion about outcomes, we should be proud taht we do have a high performing healthcare system.

TEDMED: You’ll have an embedded innovation team. Who’s on it?

The idea of “team” is loosely defined for us. Dr. Chip Davis, the CEO here at SIbley, and his team deserve the credit for championing the Hub’s vision, and having it be the first community hospital in the nation to have an embedded, well-thought through and resourced innovation center.  There are two of us running the Sibley Innovation Hub, myself and a colleague, Joe Sigrin, who is our Innovation Experience Advisor, and an advisory board.  We’re also developing a physician advisory board to provide clinical direction, and then we have the goal of trying to create widespread culture change. If we’re successful in our job, the whole organization will be part of the team and will be doing mini-projects and even full blown design on their own. We have a wonderful space I which to going to grow that army of design thinkers. It’s a space for everybody that comes into Sibley, whether they’re staff, medical staff or patients.

TEDMED: Will patients be involved?

Dawson: One of our driving goals is including patients in the process, and not just as end users, but as part of the design team.  Frankly, that’s the only way innovation is going to work. Once you co-design, it just feel so right.  It’s the only way that makes sense.

TEDMED: Who or what do you credit with launching a design revolution in healthcare?

That’s a fun one to ponder. There are the IDEOs and the Stanfords; we’ve seen design and innovation centers in many large academic institutions. They gave prominence to the idea.

Another partner, though, and one who ought to get more credit, is patients, those who have said, ‘My health and my condition, and my experience and my interaction with my doctor — that’s my responsibility, and here’s what I’m going to do to own it.  I may have to hack the system.’  They’re designing for themselves ultimately.

And then there are nurses.  All you have to do is shadow any nurse and they have hacks and workarounds for everything.  They don’t call it design thinking, but they have empathy for their patients and their peers and they’re always thinking about how to make things just a little bit better. We see that in doctors, too. Some doctor said, ‘I’m going to try this laproscopic thing, and I’m going to invent a prototype for it.’

There’s a culture in health that who has always existed.  It’s just now becoming a formal process.

– Interview by Stacy Lu

From the Internet of Things to the Internet of the Body

As Managing Director of Healthcare at GE Ventures, Leslie Bottorff invests in healthcare industry startup companies—with a preference for medical technologies and emerging business models. Her 15 years of venture capital investing experience includes her roles as managing director at ONSET Ventures, and investments and board seats at Sadra Medical, which was sold to Boston Scientific; Spinal Concepts, which was sold to Abbott Labs; Neuronetics; Relievant; and VisionCare Ophthalmic.

Earlier in her career, Bottorff spent 19 years in operating roles at large andventure- backed companies including Medtronic’s CardioRhythm division, Embolic Protection (acquired by Boston Scientific), Nellcor (now Covidien), Ventritex (now St. Jude), Menlo Care (acquired by J & J), and GE Healthcare. She has also served on advisory boards or as guest faculty at several universities including Purdue, Stanford, and UC Berkeley.

TEDMED: What’s the most remarkable innovation you are seeing in health tech or medicine, and what is driving it?

Bottorff: We’re seeing tremendous innovation in personal monitoring and in therapies for a wide variety of diseases. Combining therapies, diagnostics and digital communications is creating a more effective systems approach to patient care management. This means helping patients who are in the hospital or coming out of the hospital, living at home with chronic diseases as well as helping people who are not ill, but taking steps towards preventative care.

This is analogous to the emergence of the Industrial Internet, which GE is a major proponent of. This convergence of personal monitoring technology and advanced wireless communication is a pretty big opportunity for what I’ll call, the “Internet of the Body”. This convergence is going to be the driving force behind the advances we are seeing today.

In addition to personal monitoring, another area of remarkable innovation is noninvasive technologies to treat and diagnose conditions related to the nervous system. We’ll be able to take advantage of some of the electronics and connectivity that is now available. As one example, GE has a brain initiative being led by our Healthymagination unit.

TEDMED: What’s the most important factor for entrepreneurial success inhealth tech—and is that different from your own key to success?

Bottorff: It’s important for entrepreneurs to embrace innovation throughcollaboration and not think they have to be experts in everything to bring the many pieces of the puzzle together themselves. This is a multi-functional area. You have to recruit a strong multidisciplinary team and maintain focus. This industry is being re-invented as we speak; nobody’s got the formula. So it’s important to maintain focus and persevere to understand the needs of your target customer. Those factors are very synergistic to GE’s. We also need to stay focused, and we also need to innovate, which is why we stay close to the new thinkers and innovators. In a young and small company, you can be agile and you succeed or fail in much faster cycles than a large company. At GE, we think the best way to focus on what’s next and what’s coming is to partner with entrepreneurs and startups. We aim to help accelerate their growth and help them commercialize their ideas to really move the needle. At the same time, they may have the problem that they’re not able to scale, get big, or get reach. That’s the kind of thing we can help them with and one of the many reasons why we feel like it’s so important for us to collaborate.

TEDMED: For entrepreneurs with needle-moving ideas in global health, what are the keys to finding collaborators and supporters across specialties, industries, and geographies?

Bottorff: We’re an infrastructure company that has global reach and global distribution. We see ourselves partnering with all sorts of external partners, including startup companies with great ideas for products and business entities in many of the countries we’re based in. Having operations in 170 countries, we can take the innovations that are going to be most appropriate to the right markets and geographies and help an entrepreneur do that parsing—to ask if their product is a fit for the infrastructure of a given market. So we can say to entrepreneurs, “Let’s talk about how we can help you most, because you don’t have the scale to get all markets .”

TEDMED: In 2020, you’re asked to give a TEDMED talk about the biggest transformation you helped bring about in your field. What is it?

Bottorff: GE would love to play an important leadership role in coordinating what will be an end-to-end system that delivers on the promise, and not just the hype of  “Digital Health”.

A lot of people have grand visions of how Digital Health is going to transform and improve healthcare, and that is exciting. But, getting from point A (where we are  now) to point B (the ideal future vision) is trickier than coming up with a grand vision. It’s going to require a lot of cooperation with a lot of parties and GE intends  to be right in the middle of it to help make it happen. The transformation between now and 2020 or 2030 will be remarkable.

The Hive 2014: The Next 10 Startups

As promised, today we’re announcing 10 more breakthrough startups that will join the TEDMED Hive 2014. This September 10-12 in Washington, DC and San Francisco, each will share their products and ideas for progress in health and medicine with our Delegates. Visit for fascinating background info on these newly announced entrepreneurs, and to revisit the 10 startups announced last week.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 3.55.54 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-12 at 3.56.09 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-12 at 3.56.22 PMToday, we’re also getting to know Hive Curator Sumbal Desai, Associate Chief Medical Officer for Strategy and Innovation at Stanford Hospital and Clinics, via our weekly Q&A blog series. She shares insights on how healthcare is reshaping itself to fit consumers’ digital expectations.

We’ll release more Hive startups next week.  Until then, follow the latest news @TEDMED.