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Quality Talks 2017: Speakers Address Evidence, Ethics, and Value(s) in Healthcare

Jaime Rosenberg
Our healthcare system needs to integrate certain aspects that will better address the needs of patients, according to 4 presenters at this year's Quality Talks conference in Washington, DC.
While there have been major strides made in healthcare, there are still measures we can take to improve the healthcare system, according to 4 presenters at the Quality Talks conference in Washington, DC.

Throughout the “Evidence, Ethics and Value(s)” segment of the conference, speakers performing different roles in the healthcare industry shared their take on issues that need to be properly addressed and integrated into the industry,

The first speaker, Kyle Hill, co-founder and CEO of Harvey, spoke about increasing the human health span through personalized and integrative medicine.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen some of the world’s largest health systems start to integrate more complementary and alternative practices into conventional medicine, said Hill. These practitioners take into account the whole person, address the root cause of chronic symptoms, and work to treat them naturally.

“We started going after the lowest hanging fruit in the healthcare system, and it was the patients falling through the cracks of the traditional medical system and being failed by conventional medicine,” Hill said.

Hill encouraged health professionals to welcome integrative doctors and to talk to them about science and listen to them about their approaches. By meshing integrative medicine with science, a path will be made towards better health, Hill concluded.

Next, Nneka Mokwunye, PhD, FCCP, director of ethics, Children’s Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota, spoke about improving care at the end of life. She cited the need to embrace death as a natural way of life and to stop seeing it as a failure.

“We die alone, surrounded by strangers, with lines, tubes, machines, and various other apparatuses forcing our failing bodies to comply,” said Mokwuyne. “We’ve done a bad job at death.”

Mokwunye emphasized the need for a discussion about death. Waiting until the end is too late. It is important that we have the conversation with our loved ones about where we want to die, what hospital you want to go to when you need help, and other details.

Similar to Hill, Maria Gomez, CEO and founder of Mary’s Center, spoke about looking at the whole picture when seeing and diagnosing a patient. Gomez focuses on improving health in the most vulnerable communities by helping her patients become physically, mentally, and economically stable.

A large part of our health is contributed to by our environment and behavior, said Gomez. Where we live and go to school could result in whether we smoke for a lifetime or go out and play a sport for a lifetime.

Gomez and Mary’s Center look beyond disease and look at the full person, embracing all that is them. They provide healthcare to those whose needs are unmet by the healthcare system.

Closing up the segment, Martin Makary, MD, professor of surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; professor of health policy and management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and chief, Johns Hopkins Center for Islet Transplantation Surgery, spoke about measuring what matters and asking the tough questions.

A patient of Makary’s once asked what would happen after surgery. After outlining the potential medical outcomes, the patient asked, “When can I mow the lawn again?”

“It struck me that what patients think matter is different than what we think matters,” said Makary.

There is a need to focus on what matters to the patient and what is going to matter to them when you’re at their bedside. It is not always about being technical and rambling off statistics. Sometimes, it is letting the patient know if a prescription or operation is necessary or when they will be able to do certain things following a procedure, he explained. 

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