Technology: implantable electronics as an alternative to medication in treating serious illness.
Entertainment: adapting the rules of improvisational acting to help caregivers interact with Alzheimer’s patients.
Design: transforming trash and sewage into clean drinking water through the creation of a novel water purification plant.
What do these topics have in common? They were among the fifty presentations made at the annual TEDMED conference, exploring how technology, entertainment and design are transforming health and medicine.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) was an innovation sponsor at the 2015 TEDMED conference. This year’s conference focused on how visionary physicians, researchers and performing artists are breaking through the status quo to create a healthier world.
Several speakers with connections to BWH also were among the featured speakers:
- Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, is the U.S. Surgeon General. Prior to his appointment in 2014, Dr. Murthy was a physician at BWH. Dr. Murthy discussed how happiness can help people lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. He cited research that shows happiness can lead to improvements in many health measures, such as heart rate and inflammation levels. He also recounted a recent visit to a San Francisco middle school that has been able to boost self-reported happiness levels among its teachers and students through the use of meditation. Since beginning the program, the school has seen reductions in school violence and lower absenteeism rates among faculty. Read more about the program.
- Suzy Brown, MD, MS, is a former BWH intern and resident in internal medicine. She currently practices at Vanderbilt University Medical Center as a heart failure specialist. Dr. Brown is also a musician who performs with her songwriter husband, Scott Sax. Dr. Brown has discovered that being a musician helps her manage the demanding emotional aspects of treating patients with heart failure.
- Thomas H. Lee, MD, is a practicing internist/cardiologist at BWH. Dr. Lee is exploring how to deliver compassionate patient care through empathy in order to reduce patient suffering. Dr. Lee has previously written about reducing patient suffering in the New England Journal of Medicine.
- Sangeeta Bhatia, MD, PhD is a biomedical engineer at BWH and MIT. Dr. Bhatia’s laboratory is adapting technologies developed in the computer industry for medical applications such as tissue regeneration, stem cell differentiation, medical diagnostics and drug delivery. Read more about her transformative work.
Presentations from TEDMED 2015 will be available for viewing over the coming months. In the meantime, we hope you’ll be inspired to look for creative ways to improve health in your home, office, or community. As Dr. Murthy noted, complex problems don’t always require complex solutions.
– Jamie R.