As I mentioned in the post below, I had the privilege of acting as the Global Access Host for Medicine X at Stanford this past weekend. I personally thought I had the best job in the conference because I got a few minutes to sit down with each of these amazing and talented individuals and ask them all the questions I had! Most times I forgot we were even being filmed, and after the cameras stopped rolling, the conversations continued. What a unique conference that brings together patients, physicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, and more to brainstorm ways to improve health for the next generation through technology.
I love the energy and industry insights that everyone I spoke with brought to the table. Dennis Boyle, a partner at leading design firm Ideo, described how in the design world, you start with the worst idea and build off of it. You never start at the best idea and just stick with that because that stifles creativity. He hosted this year’s Ideo Design Challenge, where conference participants spent a day at Ideo headquarters in Palo Alto learning how to come up with solutions for patient problems. Their design process centered around the patient they were working with, so that the patient’s symptoms and experience with illness taught the designers how to think of answers.
That brings up a core theme of the conference which is that patients are front and center, giving talks and expressing their opinions about what needs to be changed in healthcare. I’ve never seen anything like this, a true patient-centric model of medicine, being taught in medical school. I spoke with Gilles Frydman, founder of online cancer network Smart Patients, and he said that every first year medical student needs a lesson in perspectives. “I come from an architect background,” he told me during an interview. “I know what a difference perspective makes.”
What I came away from the conference thinking was that medical schools need to reform education not just in the flipped classroom approach like Stanford is experimenting with, but in content as well. We need education in social media. Dr. Bertalan Mesko, a geneticist from Hungary and self termed “medical futurist”, said during a talk that medical students today are taught for yesterday’s technology, and I agree. In medical school, we are often discouraged from using social media, with administrators worrying that we will violate HIPAA regulations. Sure we know how to use Facebook socially, but very few of us in medical school know how to use Facebook, Twitter and other social media avenues professionally. What will happen when we go out in practice and patients are equipped with a whole world of social media tools that we won’t be adept in? Dr. Mesko offers a free Social Media in Medicine course online, and I am excited to take it to learn what are the best ways for physicians to use social media in today’s age. I hope other medical students out there can use this resource too.
Overall, I feel inspired by the conference and motivated by the infectious energy of the conference participants. I feel especially fortunate to have met several physician-bloggers/writers that I have been following (I’ll admit it, I was a bit starstruck! Big fan here…), including Dr. Bryan Vartabedian, Dr. Wendy-Sue Swanson, and Dr. Leana Wen. It makes me feel optimistic that there is a place for blogging and writing in a physician’s life, no matter how hectic things become. I hope that when I’m a practicing physician one day, I’ll feel the same way.
Stay tuned for videos of my MedX interviews on the Global Access stage!
(I haven’t even touched on Vinod Khosla’s very interesting closing keynote address titled “2025: 20% doctor included?” I’ll save that for another time, because that is a whole entry in of itself.)