I got a tour of the Clinic, as well as their Innovation Center… so you can imagine, I was like a kid in a candy store! The Mayo Clinic has a culture of innovation that starts with "Drs. Will and Charlie" (the Mayo Brothers) as well as their father (William W. - who mortgaged his house to get a crazy device called a microscope so he could study disease better). And while this is part of their culture, they also recently recognized the importance of having a full Center dedicated to expanding on this arena - thus launching their Center for Innovation in 2008, which now includes around 50 people - a very impressive size.
There were some great people and speakers at the conference. I was inspired in various ways - including the need to eat better (more whole grains, less processed foods and fats), the need to walk more (NEAT = Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), the need to relax in whatever manner works for you, and the importance of living and working in a space that is designed well. I realize those don't sound like they actually met the theme of the conference (since we've been preaching those themes for a long time) but it was how these people said it and what they are doing differently that made an impact.
The first speaker (Dr. Coombs, president of the Mass Medical Society) pointed out the importance of both empowering patients to ask questions AND giving them resources to find answers. Jaime Heywood (PatientsLikeMe) always gives a great talk about the power of patient data. Mrs. Q (who blogs at "Fed up with School Lunch") made me very happy my kids are in a school that treats lunch with respect. Dr. Dean Ornish opened my eyes once again to the importance of Lifestyle and a focus on "health care, not sick care" (FYI - he also told us Medicare is now paying for wellness programs - wow!). And the conference walked the walk by having a fantastic chef make healthy and delicious meals and snacks for us the whole time - check out his recipes at NewTaste.com. Various Design experts gave examples of the importance of their work. And anything by Sekou Andrews (a "spoken-word artist") was amazing.
I was fortunate to have a little time on stage as well to present some of the work we've been doing with the Szollosi Healthcare Innovation Program (http://www.theshiphome.org/) around "Thinking Differently about EMRs" (Electronic Medical Records). The summary is that today's systems (EMR 1.0) are failed paradigms which try to simulate paper rather than try to take advantage of what computers can do well - information visualization, predictive analysis, etc. Part of this is due to doctors and IT people who don't understand the difference between tasks/workflow and "thoughtflow". Another part is due to the vendors who don't utilize true information designers in creating their systems, and the last part is due to the evolution of monolithic 3-tiered siloed systems which don't allow for easy innovation (see the NRC Report for more details). I then displayed a few screen shots of the potential for future systems (EMR 2.0) - to hopefully stimulate the audience into realizing we can do better. This was similar to a talk I gave in 2009 at HIMSS - here is a blog with the slides.
Finally, kudos to the Mayo Center for Innovation (and particularly Dr. David Rosenman, the conference coordinator) for an excellent meeting. For more thoughts on the conference - check out the Mayo Center for Innovation's Blog.