Imagine a congregation of one thousand two hundred brilliant thinkers coming together. Now add phenomenal speakers from every kind of background into the mix. With a multitude of perspectives, they weave a rich tapestry of invigorating conversation about the future of medicine. All amidst the background of the picturesque John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts Opera House in Washington DC. 

That’s TEDMED.

If there’s only one conference you can attend this year, this is it. And I’m thrilled to say that I’ll be there.

Besides meeting fantastic people and engaging in fresh and thought-invoking conversation with them, I’m excited to hear from a remarkably diverse group of thought leaders.

The talks all sound great, but I’m particularly psyched for these.
On The Eatery, we’ve seen how users with diverse backgrounds and eating habits debate over the healthiness of foods, exchange recipes and get each other to eat healthier. Social’s really powerful. So I’m finding the talk “Do your proteins have their own social network” by Albert-László Barabási,- Director of the Center for Complex Network Research, Northeastern University, particularly interesting. It’s funny to think of proteins having their own social network, but when we distill our basic physiology to its core, we’re really a bunch of protein interactions. He also wrote the book Bursts which explores how we can predict human behavior as its not as random as we think.

Andrew (@carmandrew) and I attended a talk by Jane McGonigal (@avantgame) several weeks back on The Power of Gaming. It definitely shed a new light on gaming for me, how gamers could come together to figure out solutions to a world crisis, or how gaming could evoke positive emotion and make one feel happier and more confident about themselves. “Why is my joystick smarter than your stethoscope” (Seth Cooper, Creative Director, Center for Game Science, University of Washington) should be an intriguing follow up to this. I’m especially looking forward to getting more insight into the application of gaming in medicine.

Another thing I’ve observed on The Eatery is how users have encouraged each other to eat healthy, less processed foods. Unfortunately, we live in a world where the cheapest foods are the most processed and unhealthy ones. Hopefully, things will improve though. I’m interested to hear Joel’s take on this, with “Can real food from real farms lead to real health” (Joel Salatin, Beyond Organic Farmer and Author).

We believe “health happens between doctor’s visits”. We have to take charge of our own health, we can’t be relying on our physician all the time. Yet, the products out there don’t allow us to do that easily right now. How can we make healthcare more consumer-friendly then? “Why don’t patients behave like consumers” (Jon Cohen, Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Hospital Services, Quest Diagnostics) seems like an interesting talk to explore this topic.

Oh, and I almost forgot, but there’s even a talk by the Cookie Monster “Is ‘C’ for more than just cookie” (No, I’m not kidding).

Then there’s the other highlight; TEDMED’s Great Challenges Program. It entails groups of scientists coming together to decide on the problems that we first need to solve, and where we should focus our efforts on. During the conference, 50 knowledgeable individuals will serve as advocates for 50 different proposed challenges. TEDMED Delegates then vote on the top 20 final Great Challenges, and in the months following each year’s TEDMED, a lively national dialog is generated. Our friends from Shape Up (Rajiv Kumar) “Inventing Wellness Programs that Work” and Start Up Health (Steven Krein) “Dealing With Medical Information Overload” as well as Rock Health’s Halle Tecco (Developing Tomorrow’s Medical Leaders) will be lobbying on the ground, so do find about the great stuff they’re working on.

At Massive Health, we’re all about creating a design renaissance in healthcare. Our bodies aren’t the best feedback system and we want to fix that. We want to make beautiful products that aren’t just functional, but that people want and love to use. As part of the Massive team, its what I stand for as well. I’m also interested in how technology can be used for behavior change as well as the myriad of different initiatives and innovations working towards better healthcare for all. It’s fascinating. So come say Hi if you see me, I’d absolutely love to know what you’re up to.

Won’t be able to attend TEDMED? You can always watch TEDLIVE simulcasts. You can stream from the official website, or perhaps a nearby school will be organizing one. Even better, you’ll be able to join in the conversations by submitting questions.

Will you be at TEDMED? Leave a comment or say Hi on Twitter (@cassandra_leong) - I’d love to catch up. And I might have a few snazzy Massive Health tees around too. What are you most passionate about in the future of healthcare and medicine?