TED Conversations

Closing Statement from Michael J. Barber, VP, GE Healthymagination

Well, TED community, now that our conversation has come to a close, I’d like to thank you all for sharing your thought-provoking questions and insightful ideas on patient behavior. I also want to thank Dr. Nancy Snyderman for participating and for bringing her valuable medical perspective to our discussion.

Over the course of the conversation, some key takeaways for me included:

+ It takes time to drive real change in community healthcare systems but it is worth the effort to increase access, decrease costs and improve the quality of healthcare.

+ Being smart and honest with our healthcare providers goes a long way no matter which country we live in.

+ We can save 100,000 lives a year by preventing hospital errors.

+ Learning about health early in life and developing good habits can have a big impact on our healthcare system in the future.

+ As patients become better armed with information through technology, we will see the patient/doctor relationship evolve into something more meaningful and efficient.

+ If good health is a priority in the workspace, these habits will translate into the home.

This has been a great first experience with TED Conversations for me and I hope to meet you all in the digital healthcare space again soon.

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  • Jul 20 2011: This is a difficult question.

    We do our taxes because we know the taxman will come looking if we don't and the repurcussions are worse than just doing your taxes.

    Whereas with your health, if you're getting screened for something, you think i'll probably not have it. With the Doctors you weigh up the probability of having some condition over the likelihood that you don't. Even if the likelihood is high that you will develop something due to being overweight, we still to continue to put off losing weight to reduce the risk mainly i think because you like eating and your exercise rate at the moment. There is a small chance that no health problems will be created and if they do, you'll deal with them then. There's the it won't be me chance as well as losing weight is too much like hard work.

    I've had personal experience of knowing there was something but not going to the Doctors well its slightly more complicated. I injured my knee a year ago in the semi's of my club championships(doubles), played on and we won. i couldn't walk the morning after so went to A&E, diagnosed it as ligament and would heal fairly quickly so I decided to play in the final 3 days later, knowing if it was ligament, it wouldn't make it worse. A year later still having problems with it, private clinic said maybe cartilage, NHS keep saying ligament. At easter when it was particularly troubling, i resisted going to the GP again because I knew what was going to be said - "its ligament, go away".

    What would have helped me - better diagnostics through better technology but at the end of the day - I'm not sure anything would have stopped me from playing that final. I wanted to play. Rational thoughts about health didn't come into it.
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      Jul 21 2011: Hi Nicola. I found the comments about your knee injury interesting. You are right that thinking about our health doesn't always enter our minds before we try to go for the gold medal – at least for us non-professional athletes. Diagnostics are an important part of medical treatment. If tests are inconclusive, it’s frustrating for a patient to have to return to the doctor or visit more than one physician. Multiple appointments can also drive up costs. Although breakthroughs in technology are helping doctors do more for patients every day, one simple thing that patients can do when a diagnosis is conclusive is to follow their doctors recommendations – as simple as that sounds. According to government estimates, $100 billion of cost is incurred every year in the US due to preventable hospitalization, emergency room, and repeat physician visits. In that case, the specific driver is not taking medications properly. It wasn’t so cut and dry in your case, though. The human body sometimes has a clock for healing that is independent of anything we might wish. I think we have all been there. Common sense, combined with an astute use of the web and finding a health care partner who will listen to you is the best medicine (and perhaps not trying to score every goal). Building on the web/data theme, I think it’s fascinating today to see how much information is available to consumers about their health. Sites like MedHelp, Healthline and WebMD make medical information more accessible to the masses than ever before. Being so well armed helps patients – whether rural or urban, rich or poor – improve their awareness about the most cutting edge procedures and then ask their doctors more informed questions during appointments. You don’t have to live near a top academic institution anymore to gather information about the best treatment paths for whatever ails you. This is promising.

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