Now Viewing: What's Next Health

What’s Next Health: Microbiomes Where we Live, Work, Learn and Play

Sep 4, 2013, 12:30 PM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

Jessica Green

Each month, What’s Next Health talks with leading thinkers about the future of health and health care. Recently, we talked with Jessica Green, founding director of the BioBE (Biology and the Built Environment Center), to explore how a better understanding of the microbiome in our built environment might lead to healthier buildings and healthier lives.

By Jessica Green

We’ve known for some time about the invisible microbes in us and around us—small organisms including viruses, bacteria and fungi. There was a time when most believed that these microbes were all bad for us. After all, they were the ones responsible for getting us sick. But now, we know that many microbes are either benign or actually beneficial to us.

As a nuclear engineer, I had experience modeling things I couldn’t see. When I learned people were modeling biological systems showing how microbes interact with each other—systems we know as microbiomes—and using big data to understand them and how they affect us, I was immediately intrigued. When I thought about microbes in the context of my interest in conservation and biodiversity, I became hooked. And I am not alone. This is a rapidly growing field and through our collective work, we have been learning more and more about the potential of microbiomes to be agents of health, especially in their work to support vital functions in and on the body. Now we are also starting to examine and rethink how microbes move among us and our surroundings and what this means for how we design our built environments.

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What’s Next Health: Flipping the Visit

Jul 18, 2013, 3:00 PM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

Rishi Desai Rishi Desai, medical fellow at the Khan Academy

Each month, What’s Next Health talks with leading thinkers about the future of health and health care. Recently, we talked with Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, who shared his vision for “reimagining education” and what that means for health and health care. Khan Academy medical fellow and Pioneer grantee, Rishi Desai, MD, MPH, shares thoughts on how Khan Academy's approach to learning can help transform the patient experience.

By Rishi Desai

In my pediatric clinic, I generally get 20 minutes with each patient, which is long by many standards. I spend most of that time asking questions and sharing a treatment plan, leaving only two or three minutes to really talk with people about my assessment and address their thoughts and concerns. As a result, patients (in my case, a child and their accompanying adult) too often go away unconvinced or confused about what to do next.

But what if we flipped the visit? What if I could spend time quietly listening to a patient who comes to me already informed and prepared to talk about her child's health and any issues she might be facing? What if the doctor/patient visit allowed us to build better trust—to work as partners instead of me “giving a lecture”?

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What's Next Health: A New World for Changing Health Behavior

Jul 8, 2013, 8:00 AM, Posted by Tracy Orleans

tracy_orleans_ Senior Scientist Tracy Orleans

Each month, What’s Next Health talks with leading thinkers about the future of health and health care. Recently, we talked with Jake Porway, founder of DataKind about Big Data in service of humanity. In this post, RWJF's Senior Scientist Tracy Orleans reflects on Jake's visit to the Foundation.

How is it that Edna St. Vincent Millay was able to describe so eloquently the magic and potential of big data in 1939? This favorite poem has been hanging above my desk for years:

”Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
Rains from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts . . . they lie unquestioned, uncombined.
Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun; but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric.”

As I listened to Jake Porway, founder of DataKind, talk passionately during his recent visit about the many ways big data could be harnessed for social good, I was inspired and energized. It was an “aha” moment.

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What's Next Health: Moving Into a World of Exponential Change

Jun 21, 2013, 8:00 AM, Posted by Paul Tarini

Paul Tarini Senior Program Officer Paul Tarini

Each month, What’s Next Health talks with leading thinkers about the future of health and health care. Recently, we talked with Daniel Kraft, medicine and neuroscience chair at Singularity University and executive director of FutureMed, about the potential of exponential technologies to accelerate change. In this post, Senior Program Officer Paul Tarini reflects on Daniel's visit to the Foundation.

When we look at new technology, especially health care technology, we often ignore expense for the excitement of the new. More than one paper has been written citing new technology as an underlying driver of rising health care costs. 

Some of this is the result of the problems we want our technology to solve. We tend to lean toward developing and employing new technologies that are “heavy” interventions against a particular disease, and those technologies are more likely to be expensive.  

But when you start looking at technologies that are more about helping people live healthier lives, more behavioral, more wellness facing, these will likely be less expensive and their impact will be more exponential.

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Super Convergence and the Future of Health and Medicine

Jun 19, 2013, 8:00 AM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

Daniel Kraft, executive director of FutureMed Daniel Kraft, executive director of FutureMed

Each month, What’s Next Health talks with leading thinkers with big ideas about the future of health and health care. Recently, we talked with Daniel Kraft to explore the potential of exponential technologies. Daniel chairs the Medicine Track for Singularity University and is executive director for FutureMed, a program that explores how fast moving technologies can re-invent health & medicine. The next FutureMed will be held Nov. 3-6 at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, CA.

By Daniel Kraft

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

— Arthur C. Clark

We live in an exciting, and seemingly ever faster, exponential age, where many technologies, from Artificial Intelligence, social networks, and mobile, to personal genomics, robotics and nanomaterials, when converging together do indeed approach magical qualities as they become faster, smaller, smarter and more powerful at often dramatically decreasing price points.

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