10 Influential and Innovative TEDMED Talks

“TEDMED convenes and curates extraordinary people and ideas from all disciplines both inside and outside of medicine in pursuit of unexpected connections that accelerate innovation in health and medicine. Best known for our annual event, TEDMED is a year-round global community. TEDMED bridges the gap between science and the public by finding and sharing stories that inform, inspire, engage and provoke action across a broad, passionate community both inside and outside of health and medicine.”1

As a great way to spread innovative ideas in healthcare, TEDMED talks have inspired many and provided people in the medical world with the resources needed to make a difference in their field and spark change.

We have watched and learned from many TEDMED talks and compiled 10 that we felt were influential, innovative, and especially noteworthy.

Healthcare should be a team sport

Eric Dishman, a medical tech specialist, wants to put the patient at the center of medical teams. He explains the importance of this through a personal example: “Three different specialists had prescribed three different versions of the same drug to me. I did not have a heart problem, I had an overdose problem. I had a care coordination problem. This happens to millions of people every year. I want to use technology that we are all working on and making happen to make healthcare a coordinated team sport.”

What veterinarians know that physicians don’t

Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, a cardiologist at UCLA, presents a different spin to healthcare services. As a part-time cardiologist consultant at the Los Angeles Zoo, she has seen firsthand the similarities between animals and humans and how the two types of medicine can benefit from the knowledge of the other. Definitely worth watching!

What if our healthcare system kept us healthy?

Rebecca Onie, a health services innovator and founder of Health Leads, showcases health innovation at the human level. Innovation that can heal patients outside of clinics and contribute to their health every day, not only at the clinic. “It’s called health care. A system where doctors can prescribe solutions to improve health, not just manage disease.” A very interesting and different approach to healthcare.

Let’s pool our medical data

John Wilbanks, a data common advocate, argues a twist to the sensitive subject of protecting our medical data.“John Wilbanks wonders if the desire to protect our privacy is slowing research, and if opening up medical data could lead to a wave of health care innovation.” He states that without it being the end goal, informed consent is not only protecting us from harm, but is now also protecting us from innovation. “The methodology for clinical studies has not radically changed over the years, we just have better statistics. [...] The way we get informed consent; this tool that was created to protect us from harm, now creates silos. The data we collect for prostate cancer or for alzheimer's trials goes into silos where it can only be used for prostate cancer or for alzheimer’s research. It can’t be networked, it can’t be integrated, it cannot be used by people who aren’t credentialed.”

What your doctor won’t disclose 

Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health advocate, delivers an eye opening talk on doctor transparency. She argues that doctors put on their white coats and hide behind them while patients fear the unknown. They value the trust they have with their doctors and without that trust, they are simply left with fear. Through doctor transparency and a deeper connection with their patients, she goes on to say: “we can bridge the disconnect between what doctors do and what patients need.”

How do we heal medicine? 

Atul Gawande, a surgeon and journalist, argues that our medical systems are broken. “There was a study where they looked at how many clinicians it took to take care of you if you came into a hospital as it changed over time. In the year 1970, it took just over 2 full-time equivalents of clinicians [...], by the end of the 20th century it had become more than 15 clinicians for the same typical hospital patient; specialists, physical therapists, the nurses... We’re all specialists now, even the primary care physicians. Everyone just has a piece of the care, but holding onto that structure we built around the daring independence, self-sufficiency of each of those people has become a disaster. We have trained, hired and rewarded people to be cowboys, but it’s pit crews that we need.”

Why don’t patients behave like consumers?

Dr. Jon Cohen delivers an intriguing concept: “A major issue about why consumer driven healthcare isn’t working is: people don’t want healthcare.” He goes on to explain, through thoughtful examples, the three fundamental things consumers look for when purchasing a product or service, in this case regarding healthcare.

Meet e-Patient Dave

Dave deBronkart, e-Patient Dave, wants to reunite patients with their medical data and improve medical care. This comes after researching his diagnosis of a terminal cancer and turning to fellow patients online, where he found a treatment that saved his life. “Think about the possibility: Why is it that iPhones and iPads advance far faster than the health tools that are available to you to help take care of your family?” He argues that patients should have access to their data and medical professionals should have access to cleaner, more concise patient files.

Medicine’s future? There’s an app for that

Daniel Kraft, a physician-scientist, inventor and innovator, presents a look at how diagnostic information can be readily available through innovations in medicine such as apps and new tools. In the era of quantified self, these “tools help us leverage and gain insight into our own health.”

What’s the human factor that lets innovation succeed? 

Dr. Pritpal S. Tamber presents the case of using physician doubt and the age old perception of doctors being afraid of change as a way to gain innovative traction in clinical practices. In regards to physicians being afraid of change, he states: “We have the opportunity to see it as a positive. If physician doubt is a good thing, what if we could overcome that doubt? What would it say about our innovation? Surely that means that it would get more traction. If we follow that all the way to how we think about innovating, then how exactly do we design trust into our innovations? Seems to me that there is a lot of opportunity in there. It takes ingenuity to innovate, but what it really takes to get traction in clinical practice is to understand doubt and build that into trust.”

1 http://www.tedmed.com/about-tedmed/about