Carnegie Mellon University – Innovation in Health Care Technology Conference
Posted Apr 05 2013 2:47pm
Last night I received an E-mail from Carnegie Mellon University inviting me to the Innovation in Health Care Technology Conference. When I read the small print, I saw that it was for the next day, April 5th. I wasn’t sure if I had been invited because I am an alumnus, a healthcare consultant and entrepreneur or because I write a blog, but upon arrival, my admission ID said, “Nick Jacobs – PRESS.”
After looking at the program which included discussions on: Healthcare Policy, Bio-pharma, Health Care IT, Entrepreneurship and numerous other intellectual topics, I responded positively to the invitation and left my condo this morning with high hopes of being academically challenged and informed.
As a graduate student at CMU back in the late eighties and early nineties, my most often asked question to our Dean was “Why is this all so quantitative?” Kind of like when I began running hospitals and kept asking, “Why do you do things like this?” It has been a subject that I’ve revisited numerous times, “quantitative vs. qualitative,” and it continues to be a source of severe discomfort for me personally.
The irony for me is that everything I read about good leaders comes back to the fact that the best of the best have tremendous qualitative skills, skills that are heavily weighted in emotional quotient capabilities, yet we dedicate so much academic time to “the failed promise of technology.”
To my dismay, the speakers talked about things like quantum mechanics, complexity theory, quantum physics and quantum biology. In fact, the only glimmer of hope that I had was when one of the speakers listed the word music on his opening slide.
He discussed Schrödinger’sProposal, the great thought experiment that puts forth a theory that involved a cat in a box. (From Wikipedia: a cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor detects radioactivity (i.e. a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. This poses the question of when exactly quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other. (Get it?)
Our speaker then showed a cartoon of another cat with a mouse in the box and the mouse was holding a hammer to break into the flask of poison. Although his point was scientific and dealt with quantum superposition, as a qualitative guy, all that I could think about was the fact that the mouse was gonna be dead either way!
Our MD/PhD went on to say that Chemo Therapy is always tail chasing where the cancer is not cured, just slowed down only to grow again, sad. But most importantly, he suggested that, “Personalized medicine won’t work as a business model.” Again, his supposition was that it will continue to cost a billion dollars to create a drug and with personalized medicine, enough people will NOT need that drug to make the venture financially positive. (So much for doing the right thing for individual people.)
When I asked him about his music slide, hoping to hear about the vibration of proteins in the healing process, he simply said that he likes playing the guitar and often wondered what type of music a DNA strand would make.
Not to make light of extensive cerebral capabilities, it all just made me cheerless as I listened to these very bright people continue to pursue only their quantitative capabilities: IT, Biotech, and Pharma. They’re still missing the nuances of Integrative Medicine, unconditional love, and self-worth as potential benefits in our healthcare world.