The TEDMED Effect

April 13th, 2012 by DCPatient Leave a reply »

Since TEDMED, which ended  a little more than 3 hours ago, was a fantastic mix of the silly and the sublime, it would not be inappropriate to start with a song lyric quote from Milli Vanilli “Girl ( and Guy) you know it’s true”.  TEDMED is everything you’ve heard and more.  The event (conference is too limiting a term) brought a blast of California cool to the shores of the Potomac here in Washington, DC.
Presentations ranged from acrobats to violin-playing neurobiologists, from talks on cutting-edge biosensors and genetic manipulation to the common sense concept that food is medicine, but the true magic in TEDMED was the carefully “curated” group of attendee/participants.  100% of the people I met were electrically smart, engaging, generous and innovative.  Although the participants (attendees is truly too passive a term) ranged from CEOs of large health systems to celebrity surfers, everyone demonstrated an attitude of genuine interest in discovering what the next person was doing or thinking.
With such a purposefully eclectic set of intellectual and emotional stimuli, I needed to stop and ask myself what I would take away and apply to my life and business.  What would be the long-lasting TEDMED effect on my life and perhaps more importantly what would my TEDMED Effect be? How would I be more innovative, imaginative, and inspiring (the TEDMED principles) after having participated?
1.    I will continue to persevere despite the challenges inherent with transforming something as complex as healthcare, thinking back to tennis and feminist icon, Billie Jean King’s statement that “pressure is a privilege”.
2.    I will collaborate with others to brainstorm how to connect high-level advances in technology to traditionally medically underserved communities so that no one misses out on the promise and potential of health innovation.  As Leslie Saxon, a cardiologist at the USC Center for Body Computing, said, “access to your health data is the new civil rights issue”.
3.     I will strive to live more in harmony with myself, my microbiome, and the earth as “health is a form of non-violence against yourself” to quote Mark Hyman from the Institute for Functional Medicine. Such a transformational thought for patients like myself with autoimmune conditions.

4. I will never again underestimate the power of design to foster and energize flow, communication, and collaboration.  The Social Hub as exhibit hall reimagined and brought to life was a game changer for all of us who ever dared entertain the question, ” how do you make problem-solving fun?”, or as the Surgeon General Regina Benjamin observed, thought that  “healthcare can be joyful”.
Whether you attended in person, watched via the 2000 simulcast sites, or are now excited to attend next year, I’d love to know, “What is your TEDMED effect?”.  Please comment below and let me know.

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. The careful curation did not work for me as a woman and a patient advocate. It is easier for me to justify reading Tweets from attendees than investing personal funds on TEDMED until the dais includes women and patients in a more favorable quantity. Elite is wonderful if you are part of it. The cost is a barrier and it is working.

    Thank you for the Tweets and the summary! 🙂
    Joleen Chambers´s last blog post ..U.S. News, TEDMED & "Give us our damned data"

  2. I was beyond pleased to hear Bryan Stevenson, Rebecca Onie, and Mark Hyman at this week’s TEDMED conference. The messages about identity, social determinants, and “pharmageddon” all rang loud and clear. I found Onie’s comments particularly worthy of attention because by highlighting the utility of “social service prescriptions”, she spoke to the core of society’s relationship with health. She drove home just how “social” health is.  

    People become “patients” when they interact with a provider. Until then, they are citizens, and consumers who interact with their environments at home, work, school, and places of worship, all of which impact their health. An appreciation of this benefits providers, policy-makers, and pre “patient” status people, because it informs us of ways to improve health beyond traditional routes.  As critical as social welfare is to all of us, we remain challenged to adequately define and quantity it’s value in a manner that is timeless and irrefutable. The same issue plagues public health, an enterprise that has not created a value proposition routinely facilitating its presence at the table beyond discussions of outbreaks and inspections.

    Perhaps, TEDMED’s wade in public health waters is an opportunity to frame that value statement. Via commentary and action undertaken by more like Stevenson, Onie and Hyman, TEDMED could provide a platform for unusual partners to convene, discuss, and share community-based, practice-oriented solutions to the social determinants of health. Could this be one of the opportunities E.O Wilson was referring to? It’s definitely a TEDMED effect.