Health By Design--Notes From the GE HealthCare Conference

GE’s Health By Design conference in NYC generated a significant number of insights into the shape of health care reform that go far beyond what is being discussed in Washington DC. It was staged by Beth Comstock, Chief Marketing Officer of GE (and one of the chief drivers for innovation at the company) and Bob Schwartz, the general manager of Global Design for GE HealthCare and old buddy of mine from when he headed the IDSA.

Here’s are notes and comments from my Muji notebook: Dr. Nicholas LaRusso, Director of the Center for Innovation & SPARC Lab, Mayo Clinic. SPARC has 8 designers embedded in the core business—the care of patients. One project is designing a new OR from scratch. Another is developing a patient-centered medical home. SPARC has 2 designers living in a community to understand what people feel about their own health and develop new models of delivery.

In this discussion that followed, it came out that a “Mayo consult” anywhere, anytime, is a branding/busines concept that is being developed. With new social media, medical technology and conferencing tools, it may be that you can consult with a Mayo doctor without going to Rochester Minn. Is this the beginning of a hospital consolidation in the US, with the best brands expanding nation-wide—or globally?

BTW, all doctors at Mayo are salaried. Think about that.

Dr. Gary Kalkut, Chief Medical Officer of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. It has a David Rockwell-designed children’s hospital and the choice of architect is telling. Rockwell is all about the experience and building a new hospital from a child’s experience point of view is wonderful. It focuses on the families of patients, with fold-out sofas and showers in the room. Doctors are taught to have a good bedside manner—so they can learn from the patient.

Montefiore has inner city issues. One quarter of its patients are undocumented. It’s emergency room is the fourth largest in the country. The two are related. Think about it. And think about the current health care reform bills that refuse health care to undocumented people and what that means to your health—and wallet.

The Bronx is the poorest of the five NYC boroughs (and BTW, the only one connected to the mainland). Some 40% of Bronx teens are obese.

MOMA senior curator Paola Antonelli was on our panel and she talked about how designers were the translators of technology to larger society—perfect for a discussion about medicine. Paola had a great idea. Start a movement—Take A Designer to Work Day. Doctors, CEOs, managers, city bureaucrats, school principles, transporation execs—few have any idea of what design can do to help them reframe their problems and solve them. So, lets Take a Designer to Work folks.

Jeneanne Rae, co-founder of PeerInsight, a top service innovation consulting firm, was in the audience and we walked to Central Park afterwards, talking about the day. Jeneanne’s suggestion—a Mint for medicine. She said we need a new brand that organizes our family’s medical flows the way Mint organizes our financial flows. Most of the Boomers are dealing with aging parents, children and their own health, trying to keep track of medicines, appointments, doctors—and treatment options.

Hey Gen Yers out there, this is a perfect job for you. It’s your platform. A Medical Mint. This would be a perfect incubator startup project for our Gen Y Research Collaborative at Parsons.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.