About TED » TED Talks Partners » Pfizer Health Project

Good health is vital to all of us, and finding sustainable solutions to the most pressing health care challenges of our world cannot wait. Pfizer is committed to applying science and global resources to improve health and well-being at every stage of life.




At TEDActive 2012, Pfizer sponsored the TEDActive Health Project, harnessing the energy, optimism and talent of the TEDActive community to create innovative answers to big questions. Working with the TED team, Pfizer focused the energy of thinkers and doers on answering this question: How can we use collective wisdom around health to improve quality of life?

The process

We jumpstarted the brainstorm online, creating a TEDActive Health Facebook Group as a conversation platform and promoting the discussion with this incredible video. On-site at Palm Springs, the excitement around the Projects was infectious. The week began with an immersive pre-conference Experience and a idea-sharing Builder's Breakfast, opening the question up to the community at a Picnic Lunch on Tuesday. As ideas coalesced around the Project Wall, the community went out to mingle and celebrate on Wednesday night at three breathtakingly scenic Project House Parties. On Thursday, after final meetings, the entire community raised a glass to the ideas that emerged as the lead facilitators delivered short, inspiring talks during the Project Toasts.


The blogs, thoughts and the story of the Health Project were all recorded on a dedicated page on TED.com. Every Project was manned by a facilitator to encourage conversation, a storyteller to capture and represent ideas and an amplifier to take those ideas to the wider community.

The conversation online

  • 3 weeks
  • 206 members
  • 375 posts, comments and likes

Over two weeks leading up to the TEDActive conference, people joined the Facebook group to share their ideas and spark discussion. People shared posts and photos about interesting programs in their communities, related articles, videos and more.

Here are a few of the posts we loved (go to the Facebook Group to read them all):

Good health doesnt mean just sweating it out at the gym everyday or running 10 miles on the treadmill while watching your favorite TV channel. This video does a great job in showing that keeping healthy can actually be fun and a great social activity -- like hiking or cooking healthy meals, or playing a football game. -- Marut Gaonkar
Social engagement tools that bring people around health are already a big thing, and it is a big market, too. We see it with Nike+, and many other health/exercised focused initiatives. What I think can take this to the next level is focusing it around the development in the stages of our lives, and having local ambassadors like doctors leading these social groups -- Timmy Liu
I feel that I am my own and my children's best advocate. I have to do research and decide if I agree with the care we are being provided. -- Chris Schranz Bayer

The conversation on-site

The TEDActive Health Project began their journey in Palm Springs by surveying everyone to discover where people go for advice about health. Answers were hugely diverse, ranging from Google to Mom. However, one insight stood out -- the decision of where to go for information was largely based on trust. People also expressed fear about losing objectivity, thinking that too many opinions might cause them to lose their own perspective.

At the Picnic Lunch, a group of doctors, social responsibility experts, marketers and more came together to talk about creating health-related experiences that would help people feel more comfortable and trusting.


The breakthrough here was that control is important, and must be emphasized during periods of wellness. You can’t control your body when you’re sick, but you can control what you do today that can might inform or protect health in the future.

Overall, the week's conversation focused on a need to trust information and to feel like your health system also trusts you to make your own decisions.


Insights and ideas

These are some of the most popular ideas and insights we discovered during this process. We hope that you find these as stimulating and exciting as the TEDActive community did:

  • There should be translators available to doctor's offices who can help patients for whom English is a second language. The anxiety of the patient and potential mistakes in these situations could be catastrophic.
  • Education about health should be global -- awareness is key to beginning preventive measures early.
  • Use games and game theory to help the public adopt healthy behaviors and habits. Make it fun to begin changing behavior and learning about personal health.


  • Create a health calculator -- a device that allows people to see how creating healthier habits might affect their lives. For example, help someone visualize how quitting smoking today instead of quitting a month from today might affect their life.
  • Model communities of wellness where people can go to get great information and support after existing communities who crowdsource information to help those are ill, like AA or PatientsLikeMe.com.

Watching the TEDActive community grow and think continues to be a thrilling journey, as over 600 attendees flock from all corners of the Earth to be a part of this community and these conversations. The TEDActive Projects continue to be a celebration of ideas, imagination, innovation and inspiration.