My Favorite Three Talks at Transform 2013

This post is by Margaret Alrutz, Steelcase Health’s Director of Healthcare Strategy.

Science Sunday was back again this year in its new and improved venue at the large exhibit hall. Three Mayo researchers shared their fascinating areas of study and discovery with us. In particular, I really enjoyed Michael Joyner’s presentation analyzing the history of the world’s highest level performing athletes. No spoiler here, but suffice it to say that it would seem fewer of us have genuine excuses for being couch potatoes. We also had the tremendous pleasure of hearing from two sixth grade scientists who wowed us not only with their great concepts but with their tremendous presence and command of their content area. Gifted students Hemanth and Joy took inspiration from fellow schoolmates attending the autism center for their domain of study. Definitely worth checking out their presentation when it’s available, as well as the discussion on our science grant system that followed, regarding the future of science.

Monday was a day full of many great sessions. We kicked off with one of my favorite talks of the conference by David Erickson from the Center of Community Development Investments at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. He reinforced the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation insight that “your zip code is more important than your genetic code” when it comes to predicting your health outcomes. As he described the inextricable link between community issues and health, Erickson noted our societal responsibility to help our fellows citizens who live in environments that are systemically harmful to their health. Most interesting from the examples he gave was the parallel work the Center of Community Development Investments is doing to seek and develop sustainable business models for capitalizing these investments.

The end of the day was no less engaging with David Herman sharing a truly inspired way of helping us re-imagine what might be the signal versus the noise among the many issues of the healthcare system. To hear the president and CEO of Vidant Health describe patient behavior as less the problem of the patient and more the problem of the provider foreshadowed the empathic design solution to come. Herman described the common experience of providers across the US seeing more and more patients using the emergency department as a form of primary care. But Vidant came to the refreshing conclusion that instead of bemoaning that patients didn’t know how to use the emergency room properly (meaning non-acute patients should NOT use the E.D.), perhaps the design of the emergency room was not meeting patient need. Herman gave us one of the rallying cries sure to come from this conference, saying that emergency rooms are not just for emergencies anymore.

What was your favorite talk at Transform this year?

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