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Health Achieve 2009 – day 1

Posted Nov 16 2009 10:01pm

I was fortunate to get a pass to attend this year’s Ontario Hospital Association’s Health Achieve 2009. Wasn’t able to stay for the entire day due to other commitments, but I did enjoy the morning’s opening session.

Before I summarize the opening session, I just want to say that I’m always impressed with the incremental improvements I see year after year with the convention: the staff are better trained and more professional, the graphics and signage gets better, and the overall experience is very good. Today, the atmosphere seemed a bit subdued from years past, but there was still a sense of excitement.

Opening Remarks:
Opening remarks by the Health Achieve chair (didn’t catch his last name) and several awards presentations.

This was followed by a speech by Ken Deane, ADM for Health System Accountability and Performance. Mr. Deane encouraged the people in the health system for their hard work in dealing with issues like H1N1. Apparently some ERs have experienced up to 80% increases in demand. [Blogger's note: What is up with over-using the word grateful? Deane used the word at least five times in a span of four sentences]

Keynote:Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Wow. Didn’t realize all of the accolades Dr. Sanjay Gupta (of CNN fame) has. He started off with his background into how he became a medical correspondent. He was doing some reporting on the medical units of the US military service. Apparently in the first Gulf War, the time to treatment was too long and as such, soldiers and civilians were dying. The military decided to act on this information by creating mobile medical tents that would closely follow the forward lines. Dr. Gupta recounted incidents involving a sand storm and how he was asked to perform an unplanned, emergency (neuro) surgery in one of these mobile medical tents.

The story itself was very touching and I was really keen to hear more about the role of media in medicine. Dr. Gupta noted:

  • Doctors aren’t the best communicators – He gave some examples of absolutely brutal notes in medical charts
  • Information does NOT equal knowledge – He talked about having information doesn’t mean much if you don’t know what to do with it. He commented that the media has a role (or that he as a medical correspondent has a role) to transform information into actual knowledge that people can use
  • Understand your audience: He shared a funny story to illustrate that we all must understand our audience (apparently not everyone has seen the Holiday Inn commercials).
  • Media can foster conversations between family members – The media can initiate discourse on topics which may be taboo or between family members who don’t engage in such activity (i.e., men)

He ended the talk by moving on to the topic of aging. There are some interesting developments in Russia in terms of stem cell treatments. The Japanese (Okinawans to be precise) have a term ikigai which means "sense of purpose in life"and they believe this to be key in maintaining a long and healthy life. Some other tips/findings about aging well:

  • Eat less – people tend to eat too much. If you decrease caloric intake by 30%, there’s evidence to suggest living longer;
  • People tend to mistake thirst for hunger – drink more water instead
  • More activity throughout the day is better than concentrated "exercise"
  • Incorporate more upper body training as part of the exercise routine.

He ended the session by fielding questions from the audience. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for the rest of the day. I am, however, looking forward to attending tomorrow.

Some links to past Health Achieve past conferences:

Oh, one last thing. I’ve been experimenting with Twitter for the past little while and am trying out Twitter as a complement to my blogging. My handle is hansmixer and you can follow my Twitter feed at: http://twitter.com/hansmixer

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