Two weeks ago I attended WPP Stream Health in Orlando, the "unconference" hosted by Grey Healthcare and ended in San Francisco at TEDMED 2014. The theme of both gatherings was unleashing imagination and collaboration to redesign our approach to building a healthier world.
I had a particular mission. As the Executive-in-Residence at the Center for Talent Innovation, I am leading a research project sponsored by leading bio-pharma, health solutions and managed care companies on "The Power of the Purse: The Implications of the SHEconomy on the Business and Talent Models in Healthcare." Although it has been known for a while that women are estimated to make 85 percent of the health care decisions for their families and are the majority of patients, pharmacists, regulators, nurses and HC workers in the largest and fastest growing segment of most economies, these facts have not yet translated into broad ranging innovation in HC discoveries or delivery -- much to the detriment of health outcomes for individuals, families, and society. Not to mention the health of the bottom line of companies.
In an industry that is still predominately product and disease-centric, I was on a search to meet and understand SHE -- the women behind the stats. I wanted to put a face to and a voice on the women who are under-served, under-treated, under-heard and under-supported to better understand the pathways to a healthier future. This includes the patients, their caregivers, and the healthcare professionals who serve them.
Let me introduce a fraction of the SHEs that I met:
The Chief Medical Officer -- At WPP Stream Health, a multidisciplinary group of physicians, marketers, digital technologists, regulators, consumer advocacy groups and bio-pharma scientists, redefined Mom as the CMO of the family and reimagined the power of elevating her to a position of respect and responsibility as a key member of the medical team. After all, the CMO is the chief nutritionist, lead diagnostician, statistician, caregiver and enforcer of adherence for her family, identifying early symptoms, creating guidelines of healthy eating, monitoring compliance and encouraging adherence. Think about the opportunity to support her with respect, blockbuster tools and transparent, trusted information so that she could do her job.
The Surgeon General - -At TEDMED, on Sept 11, we heard from the U.S. Army Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho. While acknowledging the approximately 3000 people who lost their lives when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor and, again, on September 11th, she spoke of the 400,000 patients that die every year in US hospitals due to "preventable harm". She called for doctors and hospital systems to become more courageous, honest and transparent about medical errors so that they can be understood, examined, measured and remediated.
The Nurses -- In the Hive at TEDMED, a buzzing arena filled with innovative entrepreneurs experimenting with technology that will revolutionize health, I played a Virtual Reality game of Snowmen, presented by Howard Rose, the CEO of DeepstreamVR. This game is played by burn victims coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan as a pain management intervention during the treatment of their wounds in the burn unit. Howard explained that the Doctor-centered model that exists today underutilizes our ability to heal ourselves. DeepstreamVR's targets are the nurses, who burn out in part due to the pain they impart during the treatment. Virtual reality as a pain management device allows the nurses to experience healing as opposed to hurting.
The Researchers -- In the Hive at TEDMED, I met women researchers, like Rupal Patel, who were motivated to commercialize their research to answer the emotional suffering that comes from disease. Through her company, VOCALiD, Rupal is creating customized synthetic voices, not the standard issue voice that we associate with Stephen Hawking. Rupal's technology combines sounds from "unheard" patients who are unable to speak clearly with "sound DNA" contributions from volunteers who contribute their voices to be digitally combined with the patients'. As a result, patients are able to type messages that are expressed with a unique vocal persona that engages and builds emotional connections. For all her ingenuity as an inventor and a woman entrepreneur, she is challenged in the male world of venture capital.
The Doctor - We heard from Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician who has received death threats for her decision to launch and the Total Transparency Manifesto imploring doctors to reveal who they really are -- their values, their views on end of life, sexual orientation and reproductive rights, their conflicts of interest, and other humanizing facts that could help increase the trust and confidence of their patients.
The Patient -- Through the inventor of an expert-system online protocol, I glimpsed into the world of women with headaches who go from doctor to doctor looking for relief and proper diagnosis without understanding that women are 3 times more likely to experience headaches due to their hormonal, kinetic and neurological makeup. And the women with heart disease who goes undiagnosed because her symptoms don't include numbness and chest pain - making heart disease the largest killer of women in the US.
Face to face with SHE. And SHE has so many faces.
This is great news because by better relating and connecting to SHE, we can be on the road to recovery.