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TEDMED 2014: Great Challenges Day 1 Recap

The 2014 Great Challenges space entitled Raising H.E.A.L.T.H. is dedicated to creating a deeper understanding around 6 Challenges. Here are highlights from the topic that generated the most passionate discussion today, the Role of the Patient, that will help us shape future programs.


  1. TEDMED attendees were challenged to answer 3 questions, propose alternate wording, or suggest other topics  that reflect the top priorities within the framework of the Role of the Patient :
            1. How do we empower patients to make healthier decisions?
            2. What is the patient's role from his or her perspective?
            3. What is the role of healthy people (non-patients) in healthcare?
  2. " If healthcare was an orchestra, who is the conductor?"

    The feedback was loud and clear from Day 1 participants: working effectively to improve health and well-being is a shared responsibility of both healthcare providers and patients.  Our healthcare professionals had many suggestions on how to help educate, motivate and support patients in managing their own health. Patients and patient advocates pushed for patients having access to their own health data as a basic right.

    "What does a successful doctor/patient relationship look like?"

    Many suggestions on how to build a true partnership with patients were suggested or applauded by attendees who are physicians.

    For healthcare professionals:

    It's all about the conversation. 
    1) Start by encouraging patients to talk to others before visits and then for healthcare professionals to talk directly with patients about their diagnosis and treatment plan. 
    2) Treat every patient like a family member.
    3) Acknowledge that change isn't easy: Start by saying "This is hard."
    4) Ask each patient for his or her goal for each visit or what he/she wants to accomplish.  Or ask "What can I do for you today?" 
    5) Explain the "harm of inaction" in relation to lifestyle change and medication taking needed to manage each medical condition as part of the basic disease education discussion.  Or frame as "what's in it for me" if that positioning seems more powerful.
    6) Recognize the patient doesn't stand alone: Be holistic in recognizing the patient, their family, loved ones and community all need to be included.

    Take a team approach to care and education.

    1) Train doctors and nurses on how to educate, empower and motivate patients and families.
    2) Put patients at the center of coordinated care.
    3) Encourage patients to do more research on their own and then reinforce specifics on what is relevant to their own care. Doctors and nurses need to teach patients how to evaluate good health information from bad.
    4) Make the patient the source of applied innovation.
    5) New emphasis on coordination of care by a primary care practices requires a team approach to finding solutions/referrals for social, economic and behavioral issues and needs of patients and families.
    6) Provide health info in a simple way to support positive behaviors and highlight clearly the top improvement priorities.

    For patients:
    Our society is fragmented.  We don't have easy access to family or friends advice about health.
    1) Unlock health knowledge from others to allow learning from other trusted sources.
    2) Empowering patients means allowing data to flow.  "Be clear like water and allow patients to be part of the flow."
    3) Bring intuition and knowledge of your own body to your healthcare team. Be aware of your own needs.
    4) Be a co-creator of your own health.
    5) Look at an overarching approach to health including safe streets, playgrounds, places to live; access to healthy food; opportunities to exercise, etc.
    6) Enable patients to take a bigger role in evaluating the quality of the care they receive. 
    7) Provide patients and caregivers with easy to understand basics about their illness and potential treatments. Hold responsible for asking questions and discussing what treatment steps they feel they are able to do or not do to manage their health or that of a loved one.

    Tune in tomorrow for the discussion highlights of Day 2 of TEDMED 2014.