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 22 2011: My experience as a doctor tells me generally people avoid going to doctors,as they think that nothing is seriously wrong with them.People tend to think tfinancial aspechat all bad things happen to others, but not to them.In India, it is common to try home remedies,alternative systems of medicine before they consult an allopathic doctor
    Secondly ,many are of the impression that medical practitioners ask for too many unwanted investigations.To add to all these is the inconvenience of going to the hospitals, waiting for the doctors, visiting various departments for investigations and the most important expenditure they are likely to incur deter people from going to hospitals.
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      Jul 22 2011: It is interesting that cultural differences play roles in how we regard our physician/healers and how we access the health care systems. I know it can be dangerous to compare countries and the structure of medical systems, so let me address this as a surgeon who has traveled the world but only treated people in the United States.

      Most of us prepare more time thinking about what we want to get at the grocery store or market than we do before seeing the doctor. But whether sick or healthy, preparing for that visit can save time and allow us to get more out of the visit. Sharing information can be frightening. But I think it is just as scary when doctors don't take the time to ask the basics....how are you? how is work? How is your marriage and the children? Are you under stress or sad? The social aspects of our lives can influence disease and illness.

      The bottom line for all of us, anywhere in the world, is to do the things in life that can keep us healthy, share the burden of staying healthy with our health care provider, and use the hospital as a last resort. Being smart and honest go a long way no matter which country we live in.
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        Jul 22 2011: I was so happy to read your response. I am really lucky, and have an incredible GP who encourages my involvment, and who understands that we have a relationship, that he is the advisor, but that I am the decision maker. Sadly, far too few doctors encourage, or even tolerate, an involved patient. Doctors should be actively training patients to be better patients, and patients should be encouraging doctors and health care professionals to work with them, not for them or on them. Thanks for giving us a broader view of a balanced visit. (Needless to say, the above is impossible when financial concerns of privatized medicine are involved.)
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        Jul 23 2011: Dear Dr.Nanacy,
        You touched upon the most important aspect of doctor-patient relationship i.e.taking time to ask basics.,2 decades ago when there were not many specialities and specialists,a family doctor used to play a significant role in people's lives.He or she was the doctor,counsellor,friend,philosopher and guide.People had immense faith in their family doctors.Now with the advent of multi speciality hospitals ,medical technological advances and commercialisation and insurance,people think twice before going to hospitals.Many feel that they are not people friendly.Here in Bangalore we have a NGO known as"Helping Hand" whose volunteers visit the hospitals and help the patients and their families.Probably,we need more volunteers to do this kind of work.I strongly feel that medical students should be trined in communication and counselling skills.

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