What I Learned at TEDMED 2013

What I Learned at TEDMED 2013

By Zoe Dunn

What I liked most about TedMed: great physician and patient perspectives.

  • Physician stories about judging patients too hastily on their conditions and apologizing
  • Stories by patients about leveraging all their available research resources (and creating some new ones) to help doctors manage and treat their conditions.

There was lots of talk of big data: gathering everything we could find, creating a culture of willingness to supply our medical histories for the greater good, developing citizen scientists to ask the personal questions that researchers may not be asking. I still have concerns about privacy and security (I liken it to the energy industry’s need to build a better battery before we can truly leverage alternative energy effectively). There was talk of small data, too: making our small data work harder for us to solve our personal health mysteries or to motivate us towards change. All of this reminded me that personalized medicine is really where we came from, versus where we are going.

Great sound bites abounded:

  • Recruit the heart and train the brain
  • Science, money, and free flow of information are involved in a collision
  • Preconception is a powerful thing
  • Venture philanthropist – payoff for good
  • Sickness is when your body fails at doing something it is normally quite good at

And some great concepts that I want to explore more:

One presenter spoke about crowd sourcing designs for health data (while remaining HIPPA compliant), and spoke about the potential of applying the same concept to renovating labels and PIs so they would be more user friendly. Patientscreate.com was a hugely innovative idea: “PatientsCreate is a social enterprise that helps health providers listen to insights / ideas from patients. In short, we generate ideas and hope to provide a mechanism by which healthcare providers can learn from patients. But we’re attempting a fairly unique business model; the more successful we are, the more money we donate. For example, if we ask questions about cancer, we’ll give money to cancer-related charities.”

A physician I met was developing a hygiene RFID bracelet that tracks proper hand washing and provides data back to monitor impact on reducing infections at medical institutions.  (http://intelligentm.com/Default.htm)

Type II Diabetes patients may not have access to safe exercise opportunities or wholesome food depending on where they live and their socio-economic situation.  Another concept posited that insulin resistance rather than obesity is the cause of such a dramatic increase in Type II Diabetes: the cell is protecting itself from glucose by becoming insulin resistant. The physician who presented this concept blamed our society’s overall increased intake of refined sugars.

Some interesting innovations:

  • Website that price compares doctors’ services in your area (“Price-line ne-go-tia-tor”)
  • Tool to monitor your life outside of a doctor’s office to provide a more complete picture of the patient’s lifestyle to aid in diagnosis and treatment (similar to FitBit)
  • Pill bottles with integrated digital tools to promote better adherence (not a new concept and still somewhat unwieldy, akin to early cellphones)
  • An online tool that has stored data from 1990 to 2010 about disease incidence and other contributing factors that shorten lifespan: GBD Compare:http://viz.healthmetricsandevaluation.org/gbd-compare/
  • A group that is providing advanced sustainable agricultural skills workshops in Detroit, developing citizen farmers that are growing food together in a city to transform the environment
  • A guy who is trying to change the way we look at mouse modeling (which is a term I don’t get to use very much) to more accurately depict molecule effects in humans so that more products can come through the clinical trials funnel that are appropriate for human conditions

And a last thought: one speaker referenced the Mass Velocity Paradox – through all this innovation, as we move away from what we know to what we want to find out, we start to lose track of where we started from. The center and the periphery move too far from each other. Something to keep in mind as we consider our consumer against our communication efforts – at least, that’s what I took away as a good lesson for our clients….