Kristen Augspurger of Humana’s Innovation team and Theo Edmonds of IDEAS xLab shared their TEDMED learnings as part of the Digital Center of Excellence’s (DCoE’s) recurring lunch and learn series.

They also shared how many of these principles are already being applied in real life thanks to Humana’s Bold Goal efforts and the work of Louisville’s IDEAS xLab.

At this year’s event, Theo Edmonds accepted the Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health prize for Louisville on behalf of IDEAS xLab, Greater Louisville Project, Community Foundation of Louisville and KentuckyOne Health. Humana, YMCA, Louisville Urban League, Louisville Metro Government Center for Health Equity, University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Sciences, YouthBuild Louisville and others played important roles in supporting Louisville’s efforts during the year-long application process.

Louisville was selected from nearly 200 communities across the country for the prestigious prize which recognizes commitment to health equity, data-driven decision making, collective impact models, violence prevention efforts and for IDEAS xLab’s innovation in engaging artists to improve health. Learn more

Recap 1 features an overview by Kristen on the 7 talk tracks from TEDMED:

·      Invisible health (What if we could expose and confront invisible threats to health?) “This session was about aspects that often go unaddressed and can be hard to track or measure – environmental toxins, poverty, suicide,” said Kristen. “How do we get in front of these things before they have a detrimental impact?“

·      Audacious (What if visionaries ruled the world?) – “TEDMED has a group called The Hive that presented – innovators who are driving start-ups. They are focused on a lot of the same things our innovation team is here at Humana,” said Kristen. “People from digital, biomedical and life sciences spoke about their vision for improving health in new and different ways.”

·      New Models (What if we re-examine the way we frame health challenges?) – “Robotic vision, homelessness (how do we remove it altogether), and there was a lot on mental illness – how do we identify different ways to track it, diagnose it, address it before it has a debilitating impact on people’s health and people’s lives,” said Kristen.

“There was also a great speaker from Duke who talked about how medical marijuana is dispensed as a model for mainstream healthcare,” said Kristen. “He wrote a whole book about their flexibility with prescribing, how they educate people really purposefully, how they’re bringing the patient to the forefront.

·      Endgame (What if we possess the knowledge to be the architects of our aging and (eventual) deaths?) – “This was everything from how do we redefine how we plan our funerals to really embracing death as a part of what we do – not as a negative, but as positive thing,” said Kristen.

·      Fringe (What if the outer edges of human experience could provide solutions to everyday health challenges?) – “How do we venture out to unexpected areas of the way we live – thinking about things like art and adventure – to address health?’” recalled Kristen. “One of the presenters had travelled the globe and spoke about extreme altruism. How can we take the thoughts and insights of people way outside of health and apply them to our work?”

·      Social Scene (What if we could create a stronger culture of health by addressing its social and environmental factors?) – “We learned just how much where you live, your community and where you were born impacts health,” said Kristen. “There’s a lot still being discovered in this realm – particularly with regard to isolation.”

·      Truth and Beauty (What if we found beauty while confronting difficult truths?) – “I really loved this one – because it was about being really honest,” said Kristen. I thought it applied so much to our work with chronic conditions – being able to acknowledge a difficult diagnosis and how we can share. It resonated a lot as we think about our member populations.”

She then went on to share the top 4 topics that applied most directly to the work underway at Humana:

·      “Mindfulness came to forefront – how it really impacts so much of our health. From how a medicine is going to work, to how accepting you are of a diagnosis, to facing the reality of dying. It can really influence things. Acceptance and the research on mindfulness were recurring themes.”

·      Mental health – “One of the most powerful talks was the mother of the student responsible for the mass shooting at Columbine,” said Kristen. “She’s become a huge advocate for mental health and spoke about how we diagnose and track mental illness – much like we track steps today. Her own personal journey and the radical healing she’s undergone was powerful.”

·      End of life – “There’s a lot of focus on this already at Humana, but there was so much discussion on how to help people choose the experiences they want,” said Kristen. “We do all this planning around finances – we save money, we buy life insurance – but we don’t plan for dying. There’s a clear opportunity to help our members do that and make it a positive, not a negative, thing.”

·      Research – “There’s a lot of disruption happening with research, from who’s driving it to how it’s getting funded. There’s data that’s enabling medication to be made faster or determining what medication works best for you before you even take it. We should be driving some of that with our data. We need to be there disrupting instead of being disrupted.”

The theme of TEDMED 2016 was “What if?” – asking aspirational questions to imagine new possibilities.

To end the meeting, Kristen and Theo shared some of their own “What if?” questions and encouraged attendees to do the same. Below are the ones that were gathered.

Be sure to add your own “What if?” to the comments on this article!

What if…

·      … changing the way we treat others (i.e. being respectful and kind) could be seen as improving health?

·      … we could overcome TRUST issues with consumers?

·      … we used Google Glass to help diabetics make good decisions daily (including computations, food choices, etc.)?

·      … Humana could help with opioid crisis in the U.S.?

·      … all Humana associates were connected to the members and communities we serve (i.e. not just those in consumer-facing roles or on the Bold Goal team)?

·      … we were open with our members about the economics of healthcare?  If you are healthier, Humana makes more money—but you are healthier!

·      … every bill in Congress carried a community health rating (like calorie counts on menus)?

·      … we lived in a world where healthcare wasn’t the primary news headline each night?

·      … we could be truly connected as one with Providers and Consumers?

·      … we could truly put the consumer in the middle and give them access to all of their health info?

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