10 Takeaways from TEDMED 2016

As part of the social AOR for TEDMED, the global conference and community dedicated to sharing ideas about the future of health and medicine, I was fortunate enough to witness firsthand the themes driving health conversations online and in-person.

Here are just 10 takeaways from TEDMED 2016:

  1. There’s a swell of interest in patient and caregiver empowerment, including self-administered medical marijuana, caregivers directing the course of genetic research, and patients and caregivers together planning end-of-life care and even burial.


  1. Your gut has the cure for what ails you. We’re only beginning to know what our gut bugs—our microbiome—can do for our health. Innovative startups like EpiBiome and OpenBiome are working towards a greater understanding of gut bugs.


  1. Technology is providing new ways of looking at things. 3D imaging, 3D bioprinting, and even holographs are giving our healthcare teams and researchers new views into old challenges.


  1. Mental health is a personal and public concern. As a society, we need to examine the brain more closely and in new ways, and we need to make mental health a priority.


  1. The health of our planet and its residents is closely connected. Gunhild Stordalen’s solution, to eat food with a peel, not a package, resonated. Mona Hanna-Attisha delved into the dangers of lead in our drinking water. And Caitlin Doughty suggested ways we can be eco-friendly, even after death.


  1. Music is medicine. Just ask pianist/physician Richard Kogan, Kaitlyn Hova (who can see her sounds), and Ketki Karanam, who is measuring its effects.


  1. What we do know can hurt us – and help us. Our health data is everywhere, as Bruce Schneier points out. We need to wrangle big data and use it wisely, for good, as DataKind does.


  1. Changemakers are disrupting their industries. Eco-friendly burial is disrupting the funeral industry; medical marijuana is disrupting the healthcare system, caregivers like Sharon Terry and startups like Benefunder are disrupting typical research funding pathways, and precision medicine is disrupting typical infection diagnostics.


  1. Aging is changing. Longevity is no longer the goal. Scientists like Nir Barzilai are aiming to expand healthspan rather than just lifespan, while Tomás Ryan is working towards retaining memories.


10. Death is not taboo. We should face it head on and plan for it, so we           can get on with living.

Conversations from the global TEDMED community, beyond the event’s speakers or attendees, were focused especially around defining health in its presence rather than its absence, and the influence of happiness on health. Perhaps we’ll hear more on those topics at TEDMED 2017.

Find TEDMED on Twitter (@TEDMED), Instagram (@TEDMEDcommunity) or Facebook.com/TEDMEDcommunity. And help inform a healthier future by joining in to the conversation year-round, using #TEDMED.