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Overheard at TEDMED 2015: Let's Dance

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Is healthwashing the new greenwashing? Are we placing too much faith in technology? These are just some of the questions that emerged from our conversation around making health a shared value at TEDMED 2015. Check out our blog, "Overheard at TEDMED: Let's Dance," for more details:

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Overheard at TEDMED 2015: Let's Dance

  1. 1. OVERHEARD AT TEDMED 201510 Themes on Making Health a Shared Value
  2. 2. What is masquerading as health? When was the last time you impacted someone’s health? How did someone recently impact your health? How is technology advancing or inhibiting health as a shared value? Name one small shift that would make the biggest impact on health. How does your community impact your health? How can business positively impact society’s health? How does your culture view or treat heath? How can government play a role in improving society’s health? What is the secret to making health a shared value? At TEDMED 2015, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation engaged Delegates in a conversation around “Making Health a Shared Value” as part of the Foundation’s ongoing effort to build a culture of health in America. They posed a series of questions on-site and online, asking the TEDMED community to reflect on the role of health in their lives and their communities:
  3. 3. THE PARTICIPANTS More than 800 delegates contributed on-site, and over 150 community members contributed online. Voices included: Healthcare providers Government officials Non-profit leaders Academics & educators Hospital administrators Health IT experts Public health professionals Scientific researchers Journalists and bloggers Health advocates Entrepreneurs Industry leaders
  4. 4. 10 THEMES Delegates and the broader TEDMED community shared over 1,000 responses, telling a story of how they see health as a shared value in America. 10 themes emerged: 1. Healthwashing is the new greenwashing. 2. The “business of health” should align with the “culture of health.” 3. Community is not obvious. 4. We’re playing a personal vs. public tug of war. 5. We know the what, but not the how. 6. What is health anyway? 7. In tech we trust (too much?) 8. People are the secret sauce. 9. Are we ready to take on policy & systems? 10. It’s the economy, stupid.
  5. 5. When asked “what is masquerading as health?” Delegates offered up consumer goods, exercise movements and health fads. Commercial entities gain as consumers buy into this new “silver bullet,” but public health remains unchanged. Overheard at TEDMED: Fancy juice as the newest fad Natural does not necessarily equal healthy Low-fat everything Counting steps as a measure of health #crossfit #paleo #madness 1. HEALTHWASHING IS THE NEW GREENWASHING Consumers still buy into “the silver bullet.”
  6. 6. Many of the responses pointed to problems with our current healthcare system, indicating a deep divide between business and wellness. What would it take to align these forces? Overheard at TEDMED: Taking care of the sick instead of helping with preventative care and wellness We must put prevention before drugs A mask that corporations have crafted to take fearful public for a ride. No doubt corporates will be richer! Focus on physical health instead of holistic 2. THE “BUSINESS OF HEALTH” SHOULD ALIGN WITH THE “CULTURE OF HEALTH.” Can a capitalist society be a healthy society?
  7. 7. When asked how community impacts health, responses overwhelmingly reflected physical places, like neighborhoods or work environments. Noticeably absent were religious or cultural affiliations and digital communities. Overheard at TEDMED: Nicer and safer neighborhoods mean easier to stay active, outdoors, and healthy Working in a hospital, I’m aware of infection and exposed to more germs Access to good food, security, services, and transportation What’s important: schools, places to play, trees & plants (some edible) 3. COMMUNITY IS NOT OBVIOUS. We don’t think beyond the place we live.
  8. 8. In many responses, public health seemed to be at odds with individual liberty. While Delegates want the best for society, citizens often prioritize the best for their families and selves. Overheard at TEDMED: Single payer system! Recognize that health affects everyone As medicine becomes more specialized, it is crucial to maintain a “big picture” approach Inhibiting health through navel-gazing Make organ, eye, tissue donation opt-out instead of opt-in Ensure no child has access to a firearm 4. IT’S A PERSONAL VS. PUBLIC TUG OF WAR. Who takes priority—the person or the people?
  9. 9. Delegates often suggested the end goal. Now, how do we get there? Some of the best ideas for building a culture of health imply disrupting established norms and the system at large. Overheard at TEDMED: We need to change health insurance so it covers the whole person—teeth, eyes, health, and mental Paying for quality and value, not volume Break down silos across government agencies: housing, transportation, labor Incentivizing wellness, making healthy choices the affordable obvious option 5. WE KNOW THE WHAT, BUT NOT THE HOW. Does building require breaking?
  10. 10. Health is broadly defined, based on a cultural point of view or individual’s background. In the absence of a cohesive culture, it’s difficult to envision a cohesive narrative on health. Overheard at TEDMED: Health is not a condition of living, it’s a condition to treat Health = fitting into your best skinny jeans Pay attention to what your body is telling you Healthy means eating enough My culture believes that chicken soup cures all 6. WHAT IS HEALTH ANYWAYS? Different strokes for different folks.
  11. 11. Technology is heralded as the panacea for our broken healthcare system. While Delegates love their gadgets, they’re coming to terms with tech’s constraints and unintended consequences. Overheard at TEDMED: Instagram fitness models masquerade as health We’re offering tech as the answer, but missing common sense Tech is not yet serving as a problem solving tool To reap the benefits of technology, we need to add a human connection 7. IN TECH WE TRUST (TOO MUCH?) Technology is not the cure-all.
  12. 12. “Education and communication” are the common refrain by experts, but this requires a human connection. In order to build a cohesive culture of health, the narrative must be built through trusted relationships. Overheard at TEDMED: Business should educate employees around drugs and disease How about instilling in our youth the importance of staying healthy? Impacting the health of others by sharing health concerns with friends The secret is more compassion 8. PEOPLE ARE THE “SECRET SAUCE.” Start with a human connection.
  13. 13. Real change requires policy and investment, and many Delegates explicitly called on government to incentivize better behavior and mitigate the negative outcomes of the current system. Overheard at TEDMED: We need to overhaul the food system Implement smoke-free protections in government housing Make companies pay for true cost of their products/services Controlling drug costs #LabelUSAGMOs #LabelGMOs 9. ARE WE READY TO TACKLE POLICY & SYSTEMS? What is the role of government in creating a culture of health?
  14. 14. While the majority of Delegates come from a privileged perspective, many of the solutions offered pointed to economic status as determinant of health. Overheard at TEDMED: Access to good food, transportation, security, services Fair pay > help people save $ afford to make healthy choices Limit the production of unhealthy foods & enhance access to healthy foods Reduce income inequality 10. IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID. It all comes down to opportunity.
  15. 15. CONTRIBUTORS Slide 9: “The U.S. Capitol Building—Washington DC” by Glyn Lowe Photoworks,, adapted under the CC BY 2.0 license:
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Is healthwashing the new greenwashing? Are we placing too much faith in technology? These are just some of the questions that emerged from our conversation around making health a shared value at TEDMED 2015. Check out our blog, "Overheard at TEDMED: Let's Dance," for more details:


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