Thursday, March 29, 2012

NextGen:Health Day 1 morning session summary

This morning, I was in NYC attending the first day of the NextGen:Health conference. I want to thank my friends at AKH for making it possible for me to attend. As I walked in (a bit late), I enjoyed an excellent session on "Hacking Health: Designing for and understanding your health" by Juhan Sonin, Creative Director of Involution Studios and a lecturer at MIT. He provided a great summary of some of the innovations in health care ranging from mobile health clinics to open source projects aimed at improving health care. Expect to see more innovation as clinicians explore ways to "hack" health care.

He was followed by Scott Johnson from the Myelin Repair Foundation who started his talk by reminding us that our current medical research system is broken. The scientific community is not generating enough new therapies to cure disease. His talk was titled, "Breaking from the Past to Breakthrough to Cures-The Accelerated Collaboration Model." His Accelerated Research Collaboration™ model (ARC™) has revolutionized the way clinical research is being conducted in neurology. We need this type of research model in all areas of health care.


The next speaker was Dr. Douglas Drossman, Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at UNC School of Medicine, who started his presentation with a short video demonstrating how NOT to interact with a patient. The video showed a woman complaining of abdominal pain and the doctor in the video really didn't seem to care (or be paying much attention). His talk was titled, "Effective communication skills to improve physician-patient relationship." He spoke about illness perception vs. disease verification. What is the difference between an illness vs. a disease and what are clinicians doing to treat the whole patient? We really do not have a good understanding of organic vs. functional disorders or the underlying pathophysiology behind psychosomatic disorders.

Dr. Nicholas LaRusso, Director of the Center for Innovation at Mayo Clinic, spoke about "Lessons Learned: Driving Innovation in Health Care." Our current fee-for-service reimbursement model pays for the caring of the sick, but it does not pay to promote disease prevention. We've made a few tweaks to the health care system, but we need a radical transformation to fix the problem. The Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation is a result of the intersection of science, design, and technology. Innovation is a discipline and it has a body of knowledge that can be taught and learned. "Think big, smart small, and move fast." They start with concrete projects and evaluate the impact of their efforts.

After watching a short rap video (barber shop: turn your clippers on), Dr. Joseph Ravenell, Assistant Professor of Medicine at NYU, spoke about "The healthcare barbershop buzz: Taking healthcare to the patient." He has been speaking to barbers around the country about hypertension and heart disease. Black people have higher mortality due to hypertension, so this health disparity must be bridged. Some of the health barriers in this community include: fear, mistrust, and the perception that men don't need doctors. Barbershops are ideal places to measure blood pressure and to educate patients about hypertension. NYU is also involved in other community outreach public health outreach projects including church-based interventions in NY. These types of projects are being leveraged across the country to bridge health care disparities.

Dr. Brian Forrest, Access Healthcare; Direct Pay Health; UNC Chapel Hill, spoke about "Keeping it Simple: How to Run a Private Practice in the 21st century and Thrive." He showed an example of a radical transformation practice: advanced access, low overhead practice model that dramatically reduces out of pocket costs for uninsured patients. His idea was: "if you decrease overhead and have patients pay at the time of service of before, you'll improve collections." He has been working with many physicians around the country to help them transition to this innovative low overhead, micropractice model.

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